Israel’s Closures of 2 Gaza Border Crossings Prompt Alarm Over Humanitarian Aid

With its seizure of the Gaza side of the Rafah border crossing with Egypt on Tuesday, Israel has now closed two key crossings for aid into Gaza, drawing sharp warnings from international agencies and officials who said the moves could exacerbate an already dire humanitarian crisis in the enclave.

Since the start of the war, Israel had limited aid entering the Gaza Strip to the two tightly controlled border crossings: Kerem Shalom and Rafah, which both access the enclave’s south.

But Israel closed the Kerem Shalom crossing after a Hamas attack on Sunday killed four soldiers in the area, then mounted an incursion on Tuesday that closed the Rafah crossing along the border with Egypt.

Jens Laerke, a spokesman for the U.N. humanitarian office, said in a news briefing that Israel had “choked off” the two main arteries for getting aid into Gaza. If fuel is not able to enter the enclave for some time, he added, “it would be a very effective way of putting the humanitarian operation in its grave.”

The main United Nations agency that helps Palestinians in Gaza said Tuesday that the “catastrophic hunger faced by people especially in northern Gaza will get much worse” if aid shipments through the Rafah border crossing were interrupted.

Egypt’s foreign ministry condemned the Rafah operation “in the strongest terms,” saying on Tuesday afternoon that Israeli control over the crossing jeopardized humanitarian aid deliveries as well as the ability of Gazans to leave the strip for medical treatment.

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