CAIRO: The fate of aid deliveries and limited evacuations through the only entry to Gaza not controlled by Israel was in question on Monday, after Egyptian sources said a temporary truce was struck but Israel and Hamas said no deal was in place.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken had said in Cairo on Sunday that the Rafah crossing between Egypt’s Sinai peninsula and Gaza would be reopened and a mechanism agreed with Israel to deliver aid.
More than 2 million Gazans have been under siege since Israel launched an intense bombardment and blockade in retaliation for an assault by the Hamas. Some 600,000 Gazans have been displaced while supplies are running out.
Egypt has said Rafah is closed, but has been made inoperable by Israeli strikes on the Palestinian side.
Two Egyptian security sources had told Reuters that a ceasefire in southern Gaza to last several hours had been agreed to begin at 0600 GMT on Monday to allow for the entrance of aid, as well as limited evacuations of foreign passport holders from Gaza.
However, Israel denied that.
“There is currently no truce and humanitarian aid in Gaza in exchange for getting foreigners out,” a statement from the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said.
Hamas official Izzat El-Reshiq also told Reuters there was no truth to media reports that Rafah was reopening or that there was a ceasefire.
The Egyptian security sources say they were perplexed by the Israeli denial after having received confirmations previously.
A source at Rafah said that there had been no bombardments on Monday and that the Egyptian side of the crossing was ready.
Hundreds of tonnes of aid from NGOs and several countries were waiting on trucks in the nearby Egyptian town of Al-Arish on Monday for permission to enter Gaza, two sources there and an eyewitness told Reuters.
Reuters video showed U.N.-flagged fuel trucks appearing to leave Gaza for Egypt through the Israeli-controlled Kerem Shalom crossing.