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The situation in Gaza’s Rafah is getting worse as Israeli soldiers continue their operation there

By WAFAA SHURAFA, JOSEPH KRAUSS and SAMY MAGDY (Associated Press) RAFAH, Gaza Strip (AP) — Aid workers are struggling to distribute dwindling food and other supplies to hundreds of thousands of Palestinians displaced by what Israel says is a limited


In Rafah, Gaza Strip, aid workers are having a hard time giving out remaining food and other items to the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who had to leave because Israel says they are doing a small operation there. The two main entry points near the southern Gaza city are still shut down.

The United Nations’ group for Palestinian refugees said 360,000 Palestinians left Rafah in the past week, out of the 1.3 million who were there before the operation. Most of them had already left because of the fighting in other places during the seven-month war between Israel and Hamas Israel sees Rafah as the last stronghold of the militant group, ignoring warnings from the United States and other friends that a big operation there would be terrible for civilians..

Meanwhile, Hamas has gathered again in the most damaged parts of Gaza that Israel had said it had already cleared with a lot of bombing and ground attacks. Thirty-eight trucks of flour arrived at the Western Erez Crossing, another way into northern Gaza, according to Abeer Etefa, a spokeswoman for the U.N.’s World Food Program, on Monday. Israel said the crossing was open on Sunday. But no food has gone through the two main crossings in southern Gaza for the past week.

The Rafah crossing into Egypt has been closed since Israeli troops took it a week ago. The fighting in Rafah city has made it impossible for aid groups to use the nearby Kerem Shalom crossing with Israel, even though Israel says it is letting supply trucks in from its side.

For the past week, the Israeli military has increased bombing and other actions in Rafah, while telling people to leave some parts of the city. Israel says it is doing a small operation to find and destroy tunnels and other militant things along the border with Egypt.

Israeli forces also fought with Palestinian militants in Zeitoun and the urban Jabaliya refugee camp in northern Gaza, where the army had done big operations earlier in the war.

Etefa said WFP is giving out food from the remaining supplies in the Khan Younis and Deir al-Balah areas further to the north, where many of the people who left Rafah are now living. In Rafah, only two groups working with WFP were still able to give out food, and no bakeries were open.

“Most of the distributions have stopped because of the orders to leave, people being forced out, and running out of food,” she said. “The situation is getting worse and worse.”

Almost everyone in Gaza relies on groups giving out food and other items to survive. With Israel making it hard and causing problems for giving out aid because of the violence, around 1.1 million Palestinians in Gaza are facing very high levels of hunger, close to starving, and according to the U.N., a

“full-blown famine”

is happening in the north. The head of the Kuwait Hospital, one of the last hospitals still working in Rafah, said medical workers and people near the hospital were told to leave. Sohaib al-Hams warned that if the hospital itself had to be emptied, it would have very bad consequences. Israel has told more people to leave northern Gaza, even though many already left in the first weeks of the war.

Mahmoud Shalabi, who works for a U.K.-based charity called Medical Aid for Palestinians, was told to move from Beit Lahiya in the north to Gaza City.

“I have had to leave my house multiple times with my elderly parents, my three children, and my wife,” he said. “The experience of terror and being forced from my home is indescribable.”

The war started when Hamas and other militants entered southern Israel on

, killing about 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and holding another 250 hostage. Around 100 captives are still held, along with the remains of over 30 after the rest were released last year during a cease-fire.

According to Gaza’s Health Ministry, Israel’s attack has killed more than 35,000 Palestinians, mostly women and children. The ministry does not separate civilians from fighters in its figures. Israel claims to have killed over 13,000 militants, but has not provided evidence. Oct. 7Israel observed

a particularly sad Memorial Day

on Monday, with ceremonies throughout the country honoring the over 600 soldiers killed since Oct. 7, most in the initial attack. During the opening ceremony at Mount Herzl cemetery near Jerusalem, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu once again promised to defeat Hamas. “We are determined to win this struggle. We have and will continue to make the enemy pay a high price for their criminal actions. We will achieve victory and, at the top of our goals, bring all our hostages home,” he said.

At 11:00 A.M. on Monday, sirens signaled two minutes of silence, and a group of four fighter planes flew over Jerusalem and nearby areas.

Some of the ceremonies were disrupted by protesters and hecklers, showing growing dissatisfaction with the country’s leaders. This has led thousands of protesters to take to the streets in recent months. Critics blame Netanyahu for security and intelligence failures that allowed the attack to happen, and for failing to reach a deal with Hamas to release the hostages.

Last week, internationally mediated talks on a cease-fire and hostage release came to a halt after Israel launched its incursion into Rafah. Israel has rejected Hamas’ main demand to end the war and withdraw its forces from the area, arguing that doing so would allow the militant group to regain control and carry out more attacks like the one on Oct. 7.

Netanyahu has pledged to continue the attack until Israel dismantles Hamas’ military and governing abilities and brings back all the hostages. These goals remain out of reach even after

one of the deadliest and most destructive military offensives

in recent history. The Biden administration has shown growing impatience, saying it will not provide offensive weapons for a full-scale assault on Rafah, despite having given crucial military and diplomatic support for the attack. The Secretary of State Antony Blinken cautioned on Sunday that

Israel might face a long-lasting rebellion

if it fails to create a practical plan for governing Gaza after the war. Israel has turned down U.S. suggestions for the Palestinian Authority to rule Gaza with support from Arab nations because those proposals rely on progress toward establishing a Palestinian state, which Netanyahu is against. Krauss reported from Jerusalem and Magdy from Cairo. Associated Press writer Lee Keath in Cairo and Jack Jeffery in Jerusalem contributed. Follow AP’s coverage of the war at



By WAFAA SHURAFA, JOSEPH KRAUSS and SAMY MAGDY (Associated Press) RAFAH, Gaza Strip (AP) — Aid workers are struggling to distribute dwindling food and other supplies to hundreds of thousands of Palestinians displaced by what Israel says is a limited operation in Rafah, as the two main crossings near the southern Gaza city remain closed. […]

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