A seemingly endless row of white trucks lines the road through the desert in northern Egypt, their drivers desperate for the go-ahead to move badly needed aid into besieged Gaza.

After tedious days marked by idle chitchat and dreary diets of beans and instant coffee, the men, all Egyptians, took some comfort in news that more fuel and other essentials may soon be allowed in as part of a four-day truce that could begin as soon as Friday.

But it was far from clear when they might actually move, and as they faced still more mindless waiting -- separated from their families and without beds and showers -- some showed clear signs of irritation and fatigue.

"Before the war we used to work for just two or three days and then take a break. Today we have been for seven days in the same place without moving," said 48-year-old Alaa Moustafa, shuffling around in sandals as he mashed beans into yet another stew.

"You want me to speak about my daily life?" asked another driver who insisted on anonymity, mindful of Egyptian security forces who maintain a heavy presence near the border with Gaza.

"It's in the street -- that's how we are living now. Sleeping, waking up, eating in the same place without taking a shower."

Israel tightened its siege of Gaza alongside relentless bombardment and a ground offensive intended to destroy Hamas, which carried out the deadliest attack in Israel's history on October 7, killing around 1,200 people and taking about 240 hostage, according to Israeli officials.

The Hamas-run government in Gaza says Israel's operations have killed more than 14,000 people, many of them children, and left much of the territory in ruins.

Under the terms of the truce, Hamas will free at least 50 hostages and Israel will release scores of Palestinian prisoners.

- 'See the destruction' -

Amid widespread displacement, blackouts, rising malnutrition and worsening sanitation, only around 1,400 truckloads of humanitarian supplies entered Gaza via Egypt for the month ending Tuesday, according to the United Nations humanitarian agency OCHA.

That was down from a pre-war monthly average of 10,000 truckloads of commercial and humanitarian commodities, OCHA said.

An adviser to Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said on Wednesday the four-day truce would bring hundreds of additional trucks.

"We need to get them to the people in Gaza," Abdullah al-Rabeeah, head of Saudi Arabia's King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre, said during a visit to the Egyptian town of El-Arish and the Rafah border crossing on Wednesday.

"I think the whole international community wants to see an urgent peace deal."

The Egyptian drivers told AFP they were proud to be in a position to help Palestinians, but said they were wary of what they might find if and when they do reach Gaza.

"I will enter and see the whole destruction. We will see what we're watching on televisions -- there's no more Gaza Strip," said 43-year-old Youssef Abulaziz.

They have ample reason to be fearful.

As the drivers waited again in vain on Wednesday for approval to proceed, Fatima Achour, a Palestinian lawyer in her forties, approached the Rafah crossing from the Gaza side -- one of the few Gazans allowed to leave because she has a foreign passport.

Weighed down by three bags, she burst into tears when she reached Egypt, saying "This war must stop" over and over.

"There's no city to go back to... There are no houses. Our lives have ended," she said, adding that she did not think the truce would do much to improve the situation.

"This truce has been made in order to free their (Israel's) prisoners. This truce is not for us."