About 34 trucks carrying humanitarian supplies have recently entered Gaza.
It comes over two weeks since Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel, which it responded to by declaring war.
The Israeli Defence Forces are preparing for a possible ground attack, and the U.S. and Iran have exchanged warnings about a wider conflict.
Here’s a summary of the latest developments.
Recap of events
On October 7, Hamas launched an unprecedented attack on Israel killing over 1,400 people including civilians. Australia considers Hamas a terrorist organisation. About 200 hostages were captured and returned to Gaza, where most remain.
Israel responded by declaring war and seeking to eliminate Hamas. It has bombarded Gaza, which is controlled by Hamas, and has also shut off access to basic necessities including food and electricity.
Gaza has a population of over two million. According to the latest estimates, 4,650 people have been killed so far in Gaza including civilians.
Humanitarian supplies to Gaza
Over the weekend, two convoys of trucks (about 34 trucks in total) crossed into Gaza with humanitarian supplies including food and medicine. They entered via the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt.
Their entry followed days of negotiation. Israel can check the contents of the trucks. Hamas agreed not to participate in the distribution of aid.
The UN has welcomed the trucks but called for more. It said urgent humanitarian needs require at least 100 per day.
U.S. President Joe Biden has been active in negotiating the entry of the trucks.
The White House today announced Biden had agreed with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that there would now be “continued flow of trucks”.
This was criticised by Israeli Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, who said continuous aid should not occur until all hostages were released.
A major sticking point has been whether fuel should be provided on trucks. Israel has expressed concern fuel could be used by Hamas for military purposes.
However, aid workers have said fuel is needed to power hospital generators and water pumps.
An official in charge of UN relief said: “Without fuel, there will be no humanitarian assistance. No fuel will further strangle the children, women and people of Gaza.”
Israel responded to Hamas’ initial attack by launching a “siege” of Gaza until all hostages are returned. On the weekend, two American hostages were released, with about 200 still remaining.
In a joint statement, the leaders of the U.S., Canada, France, Germany, Italy and the UK repeated calls for all remaining hostages to be released. Australia and the UN have made similar calls.
Hamas has released some images of hostages, but their exact whereabouts are unknown.
The Israeli Defence Forces have been preparing for a possible ground attack in northern Gaza.
Israel has told civilians to move south and warned those who stay north may be viewed as “an accomplice in a terrorist organisation”. Hamas has told civilians to ignore the order, prompting Israeli accusations that Hamas is using civilians as “human shields”.
Hundreds of thousands of people have moved south, but many more remain and UN officials has warned not all are able to evacuate. There have also been reports of strikes in the south.
Israel has not officially announced a ground invasion, but Defence Minister Yoav Gallant last week told Israeli soldiers they would soon see Gaza “from the inside” and Lieutenant-Colonel Peter Lerner has said soldiers may perform “specific tasks” in Gaza “that will help us achieve our goal to destroy Hamas”.
Western countries including the U.S. and Australia have recognised Israel’s right to defend itself against Hamas but have warned Israel to abide by humanitarian law and protect civilians. President Biden has also warned Israel to have clear objectives for any ground attack.
An Israeli ground attack is seen as a possible tipping point for wider regional conflict.
There has already been some escalation in fighting on Israel’s borders with Syria and Lebanon. Hezbollah, an Iran-backed group based in Lebanon and recognised by Australia as a terrorist group, has said it is “ready” to ramp up attacks on the Israeli “enemy”.
Netanyahu warned Hezbollah this would be the “mistake of its life” and Israel would “cripple it with a force it cannot even imagine”.
Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian has been in contact with Hamas officials since the 7 October attacks, which Iran praised.
Amir-Abdollahian warned the U.S. and Israel that “anything is possible at any moment and the region will go out of control” if Israeli military actions continue.
The U.S. has warned Iran against “escalation” and has increased its military presence in the region.