My colleague Cassandra explained how our first shipment of food got from Jerusalem to the Kerem Shalom crossing and into Gaza on Thursday afternoon. Here's what happened on the Gaza side.
Our driver, Dafer, began his 40-kilometer journey from Gaza City to Rafah at 6 a.m. Thursday morning to pick up the food and take it to our warehouse in Khan Younis. Before the recent conflict, it took about an hour to make this trip. But yesterday, due to damaged roads and checkpoints, Dafer and the rest of the trucks in his convoy did not reach the checkpoint until 3 p.m.
The truck drivers were nervous about traveling through Rafah because two truck drivers were recently killed by Israeli fire after receiving permission to pass by the Israeli Defense Forces, according to the UN.
After waiting for permission from the IDF to pass through the Kerem Shalom crossing, and then loading up the trucks with food and bottled water, it was almost 6 p.m. This meant braving the journey back in the dark, a dangerous proposition in a war zone. Regardless, Dafer made it as far as the Mercy Corps warehouse in Khan Younis.
And that's where he stayed for the night, because the IDF forbade him and the other drivers from returning to Gaza City at that time.
So in total, it took Dafer over 24 hours to make an 80-kilometer journey from Gaza City to the Kerem Shalom border crossing and back. But thanks to his efforts, the first distributions of food for 2,000 hungry Gazans will start tomorrow in villages east of Khan Younis.
Mercy Corps' truck is loaded with soybean oil to be delivered to families in Gaza.