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USAID chief Power sees 'sea change' in assistance for Gaza, wants more

April 10, 2024 at 9:50 am

Samantha Power, administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), in Davos, Switzerland, on 18 January, 2024 [Hollie Adams/Bloomberg via Getty Images]

US Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator, Samantha Power, acknowledged on Tuesday that humanitarian aid into Gaza had risen sharply in the past few days, and said the higher level of aid should be sustained and increased further, Reuters reports.

“We are seeing a sea change, which we hope is sustained and expanded upon,” Power said at a hearing of the US Senate Appropriations sub-committee that oversees US diplomatic and foreign assistance spending.

Israel said 468 aid trucks moved into Gaza on Tuesday, following 419 on Monday. That was the highest number in the six months since its air and ground campaign triggered by Hamas’s 7 October attack on southern Israel, but the United Nations said it was still much less than the bare minimum to meet humanitarian needs.

We need to go way beyond the 500 trucks

Power said.

“We have famine-like conditions in Gaza and supermarkets filled with food within a couple of kilometres away,” she said at the hearing, which focused on the Agency’s fiscal 2025 budget request.

Both Democrats and Republicans questioned Power closely about conditions in Gaza, reflecting increased concern among lawmakers about the humanitarian crisis in the Palestinian enclave.

Democrats, in particular, have been putting pressure on President Joe Biden to do more to alleviate conditions in devastated Gaza, which faces the risk of widespread famine and disease, with nearly all its inhabitants now homeless.

Many have called on Biden to stop shipping offensive weapons to Israel until Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, changes tactics. In a call last week with Netanyahu, Biden threatened to condition US support for Israel’s offensive in Gaza on its taking concrete steps to protect aid workers and civilians.

It was the first time that Biden, a Democrat and staunch supporter of Israel, has sought to leverage US aid to influence Israeli military behaviour.

READ: Israel is starving Gaza’s children to death, HRW warns