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Fears for Palestinians amid reports Israel plans to extend push to Rafah

Aid trucks near Rafah   -  
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Hatem Ali/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved.


As trucks carrying humanitarian aid entered the Gaza Strip on Sunday through the Rafah border crossing with Egypt, there were increasing concerns over the humanitarian situation in the Palestinian enclave.

The delivery of much needed aid to Gaza's 2.3 million people has been further complicated by a decision by several donor countries to pause funds for the United Nations refugee agency for Palestinians (UNRWA), the main humanitarian agency in Gaza.

More than a dozen countries, including the United States, announced they would suspend contributions to UNRWA, following Israeli allegations that 12 of the agency’s workers participated in the 7 October attacks in Israel.

The UN organisation was created in 1949 to help Palestinians displaced during the 1948 war following Israel’s declaration of independence, and continues to play a pivotal role in the Gaza enclave.

Aid groups and other UN agencies have urged donors to continue supporting UNRWA, warning that a failure to do so could have “catastrophic consequences” for the people of Gaza.

Rafah is seen as the last refuge for the enclave’s displaced people.

There is growing concerns for the safety of the close to two million Palestinians who are crammed into the southern city, amid fears that Israel plans to extend it offensive against Hamas to Rafah.

This could push the refugees across the border into Egypt.

The war in Hamas-run Gaza has levelled vast swathes of the tiny besieged enclave, displaced 85 per cent of its population, and pushed a quarter of residents to the brink of starvation.

Israel launched the counteroffensive after fighters from the Palestinian militant group Hamas, crossed into Israel on 7 October, killing some 1,200 people and taking 250 hostages back into Gaza.

Health officials in Gaza says more than 27,000 Palestinians, mostly women and children, have since been killed in the Israel ground and air campaign.

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