As Rafah Offensive Grinds On, Hunger in Gaza Spirals

For weeks, the Gaza Strip’s southernmost city, Rafah, was one of the few places where desperate Gazans could find some aid and food. Bakeries sold bread; fuel powered generators; markets were open, if expensive.

But since Israeli forces began an incursion in the city this month — effectively closing the two main crossings where aid enters — Rafah has become a place of fear and dwindling supplies. Bakeries have shuttered. So have malnutrition treatment centers. The price of the firewood that many people now use to cook has doubled. Tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers have grown so expensive that they are sold by the piece, not by the kilogram.

Families hide what canned goods they still have. They eye their emptying sacks of flour, calculating how long they will last.

“There’s always something missing in the tent,” said Ahmed Abu al-Kas, 51, who is sheltering in Rafah with his family. “If we have bread, we don’t have water. If we have firewood, we don’t have some basic vegetables.”

For months, international aid officials and health experts have warned that famine will come for Gaza unless Israel lifts barriers keeping most humanitarian aid out, the fighting stops and vital services such as health care and clean water, which must be in place to fend off malnutrition, are restored.

None of those conditions have been met.

Trucks waiting near the Rafah border crossing in Egypt this month. Israel’s operation in Rafah has effectively closed the two main crossings for aid.Credit…Oren Alon/Reuters
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