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Israel says it reopened a key Gaza crossing after a rocket attack but the UN says no aid has entered

Fighting and bombardment continued on the outskirts of the southern Gaza city of Rafah as Israel said the key Kerem Shalom crossing had reopened for aid. The Israeli military said troops had killed Hamas fighters in eastern Rafah as part of a “precise” counterterrorism operation. Hamas also reported battles.

Earlier, the military said lorries had reached Kerem Shalom, which was closed after a rocket attack on Sunday. But the UN says no supplies have passed through the crossing yet.

The US said that while the crossing was open again, aid could not get through “because of logistical and security concerns” on the ground. The UN had expressed alarm on Tuesday over what it called Israel’s “choking-off” of Gaza’s two main aid arteries, after Israeli troops took full control of the Palestinian side of the nearby Rafah crossing with Egypt.

The closing of the Rafah crossing is of particular concern because of the consequences for fuel deliveries – the UN says all of its fuel enters there.

“Without fuel, trucks cannot move critical humanitarian assistance, water pumps will stop functioning and the remaining hospitals will shut down,” Philippe Lazzarini, the head of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, Unrwa, wrote on social media on Wednesday.

World Health Organization head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned that hospitals in the south of Gaza had only three days of fuel left.

Negotiations on a new ceasefire and hostage release deal have resumed in Cairo, with the US saying it believes a revised Hamas proposal could lead to a breakthrough.The Israeli military played down the significance of the US government’s decision to halt a shipment of powerful bombs over concerns that Israel was about to launch a major offensive on Rafah city.

However, US President Joe Biden later warned that the US would stop supplying some weapons if Israel launched a major ground operation in Rafah.

Seven months into its war with Hamas in Gaza, Israel has insisted victory is impossible without taking Rafah.

But with more than a million displaced Palestinians taking refuge there from the fighting elsewhere, the UN and Western powers have warned that an all-out assault could have devastating humanitarian consequences.Plumes of smoke from Israeli air strikes were seen over Rafah and heavy gunfire was heard on Wednesday, as the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said troops were continuing a limited offensive in eastern areas.

An IDF statement said they had “eliminated terrorists and uncovered terrorist infrastructure, as well as underground shafts in several locations” during several encounters over the past day. They were also carrying out raids on the Gazan side of the Rafah crossing, it added.

The IDF also said aircraft had struck more than 100 “terror targets” throughout Gaza over the past day.

Residents of Rafah reported intense bombardment overnight and video footage on Wednesday morning showed people searching through the rubble of a building destroyed in one of the strikes.

“We are in a safe area according to the army’s map – an area without operations,” neighbour Reda al-Najili told Reuters news agency.We were sitting when suddenly the explosion happened. Our neighbour’s house was gone, and our house was all damaged internally. In the house there are only civilians. Women died. Those who were injured were all children.”

Palestinian medics also said seven members of one family, including five children, were killed in an overnight strike on a home in the Zeitoun neighbourhood of Gaza City, in the north of the territory.

The Israeli military has ordered the evacuation of an estimated 100,000 residents and displaced people in a number of eastern neighbourhoods and told them they will find field hospitals, tents and aid in an “expanded humanitarian area”, which stretches north from al-Mawasi to the city of Khan Younis and central town of Deir al-Balah.

Meanwhile, the director general of the World Health Organization said one of the three hospitals in Rafah, al-Najjar, was “no longer functioning due to the ongoing hostilities in its vicinity and the military operation in Rafah”.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus also warned that the partially functioning Kuwaiti and Emirati hospitals would soon run out of fuel unless the UN received a delivery. “Hospitals in the south of Gaza only have three days of fuel left, which means services may soon come to a halt,” he added.

Source: eNCA

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