The United Nations has warned that Israel’s military incursion into Rafah and closure of border crossings is a major setback for aid operations in the Gaza Strip, with dire implications for its people.

No aid trucks have entered Gaza since Sunday, the United Nations said on Wednesday, as Israel sent tanks and troops into Rafah and blocked the two southern crossings where most aid has entered, at Rafah on the Egyptian border and near Kerem Shalom on the Israeli frontier.

Israel said that the Kerem Shalom crossing reopened on Wednesday, but did not indicate when the Rafah crossing would reopen. The U.N. disputed Israel’s claim.

The fighting in the Rafah area and the closure of the crossings set aid efforts back, at least temporarily, to the conditions of the first weeks of the war, when an Israeli and Egyptian blockade prevented anything from entering Gaza, producing desperate shortages of food, water, fuel, medicine and other supplies. Israel has described the military action it began on Monday as a limited incursion into Rafah that seized control of the border crossing, not the full-fledged offensive it has vowed to carry out, despite warnings from the United States and aid groups that it would be a humanitarian catastrophe.

U.N. officials said the conditions threaten to halt all its humanitarian operations in Gaza.

As many as a million people displaced from other parts of Gaza, more than half of them children, have sought refuge there, living in squalid conditions and relying on international aid efforts.

“Rafah is the epicenter of humanitarian operations in Gaza,” António Guterres, the U.N. secretary general, said on Tuesday. “Attacking Rafah will further upend our efforts to support people in dire humanitarian straits as famine looms.”


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