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Aid workers in Gaza struggling to distribute dwindling food supplies

AID workers said today that they were struggling to distribute dwindling food and other supplies to hundreds of thousands of Palestinians displaced by Israel’s intensified assault in Rafah.

The two main crossings near the southern Gaza city remain closed.

The United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees said 360,000 Palestinians have fled Rafah over the past week, out of 1.3 million who were sheltering there before the operation began.

Most of the evacuees had already fled fighting elsewhere over the course of the seven-month Israeli bombardment.

Israel claims that Rafah is the last stronghold of Hamas and has ignored warnings from the United States and other allies that any major operation there would be catastrophic for civilians. 

But Israel has also been forced to return to parts of northern Gaza that it previously claimed to have cleared with heavy bombardment and ground operations.

Some 38 trucks of flour arrived through the Western Erez Crossing, a second access point to northern Gaza, Abeer Etefa, a spokeswoman for the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP), said today. 

Israel announced on Sunday the opening of the crossing.

But no food has entered the two main crossings in southern Gaza for the past week.

The Rafah crossing into Egypt has been closed since Israeli troops seized it a week ago. 

Fighting in Rafah city has made it impossible for aid groups to access the nearby Kerem Shalom crossing with Israel.

Ms Etefa said WFP is distributing food from its remaining stocks in the areas of Khan Younis and Deir Balah further north to which many of those escaping Rafah have fled. 

Inside Rafah, only two organisations partnering with the WFP were still able to distribute food and no bakeries were operating in the city.

“The majority of distributions have stopped due to the evacuation orders, displacement and running out of food,” she said. 

“The situation is becoming increasingly unsustainable.”

Almost the entire population of Gaza relies on humanitarian groups’ distribution of food and other supplies to survive. 

Around 1.1 million Palestinians in Gaza are on the brink of starvation and a “full-blown famine” is taking place in the north, according to the UN.

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