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LONDON: Dwindling food and fuel stocks could force aid operations to grind to a halt within days in Gaza as vital crossings remain shut, forcing hospitals to close down and leading to more malnutrition, United Nations aid agencies warned on Friday.
Humanitarian workers have sounded the alarm this week over the closure of the Rafah and Kerem Shalom crossings for aid and people as part of Israel’s military operation in Rafah, where around 1 million uprooted people have been sheltering.
The Israeli military said a limited operation in Rafah was meant to kill fighters and dismantle infrastructure used by Hamas, which governs the besieged Palestinian territory.
“For five days, no fuel and virtually no humanitarian aid entered the Gaza Strip, and we are scraping the bottom of the barrel,” said the UNICEF Senior Emergency Coordinator in the Gaza Strip, Hamish Young.
“This is already a huge issue for the population and for all humanitarian actors but in a matter of days, if not corrected, the lack of fuel could grind humanitarian operations to a halt,” he told a virtual briefing.
More than 100,000 people have fled Rafah in the last five days

More than 100,000 people have fled Rafah in recent days, said Young.
Israel’s military on Monday called for Gazans to leave eastern Rafah, which triggered widespread international alarm.
The UN children’s agency UNICEF said more than 100,000 had left, with the UN humanitarian agency OCHA putting the figure at more than 110,000.
All eyes have been on Rafah in recent weeks, where the population had swelled to around 1.5 million after hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled fighting in other areas of Gaza.
Georgios Petropoulos, head of OCHA’s sub-office in Gaza, said the situation in the besieged Palestinian territory had reached “even more unprecedented levels of emergency.”
Countries around the world, including key Israeli backer the United States, have urged Israel not to extend its ground offensive into Rafah, citing fears of a large civilian toll.
Hamish Young, UNICEF’s senior emergency coordinator in the Gaza Strip, insisted Rafah “must not be invaded” and called for the immediate flow of fuel and aid into the Gaza Strip.
“Yesterday, I was walking around the Al-Mawasi zone, that people in Rafah are being told to move to,” he said, also speaking from Rafah.
“Shelters already lined Al-Mawasi’s sand dunes and it’s now becoming difficult to move between the mass of tents and tarpaulins.
AFP journalists in the Gaza Strip early Friday witnessed artillery strikes on Rafah on the territory’s southern border with Egypt.
Gaza’s bloodiest-ever war began following Hamas’s unprecedented October 7 attack on Israel that resulted in the deaths of more than 1,170 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally of Israeli official figures.
Vowing to destroy Hamas, Israel has conducted a retaliatory offensive that has killed more than 34,900 people in Gaza, mostly women and children, according to the Hamas-run territory’s health ministry.

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