RAFAH, OCCUPIED GAZA - Amid some of the fiercest reported fighting in Gaza yet, UN humanitarians on Wednesday repeated warnings that famine is still an imminent threat because of aid restrictions and a lack of safe access.

More than seven months into the war, babies are still being born too small, warned the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA.

"Habiba was born in a small tent. She's two weeks old and weighs less than two kilogrammes," the UN agency said in a post on X, adding that more than 150,000 pregnant and breastfeeding women continue to face dire sanitary conditions and health hazards.

Fellow UN agency the World Food Programme (WFP) highlighted the massive challenge parents face keeping their children safe and fed. To stave off malnutrition, the WFP distributes fortified date bars, including to parents Khaled and Siham, who "some days...go with nothing to eat to leave the little they have for their children".

According to WFP, malnutrition among children is proceeding "at record pace", with one in three children below the age of two now acutely malnourished or suffering wasting.

The UN and its partners have the means to scale up aid to all 2.2 million people in Gaza, but only if a humanitarian ceasefire happens, the agency insisted.

Heavy clashes

Meanwhile, aid efforts have continued amid reported gun battles between Israeli troops and Palestinian fighters in Jabalia in the north and Rafah in the south.

To date, Rafah has emptied of at least 600,000 people in just the last week, and another 100,000 have been uprooted from the north of the enclave, amid fresh evacuation orders by the Israeli military.

"Families keep fleeing where they can, including to rubble and sand dunes, in search of safety, but there's no such thing in Gaza," UNRWA said in a tweet on Tuesday, with images showing lines of vehicles heading to the coast, some laden with entire families' belongings.

The UN aid coordination office, OCHA, said relief teams were continuing to try to deliver lifesaving assistance "wherever and whenever possible", although the main border crossing in Rafah remains closed, and there is "no safe access" at the nearby Kerem Shalom crossing, which is "not logistically viable".

Nasser Hospital to reopen

In a rare piece of good news, OCHA reported that Nasser Medical Complex in Khan Younis is expected to formally re-open in the coming days.

The hospital, which is in southern Khan Younis and previously one of the biggest in Gaza, was hit during intense Israeli shelling in February. Israeli forces also entered the facility after weeks of fighting and besiegement.

Now, the hospital has resumed providing kidney dialysis treatment last week to patients who can no longer be treated at An Najjar Hospital in Rafah, "which has ceased providing services", OCHA said in an update.

Aid trucks targeted

Major obstacles continue to be faced by aid teams inside and outside Gaza, including an attack by Israeli settlers on Tuesday in the West Bank on trucks carrying humanitarian supplies bound for the enclave. "The settlers offloaded and vandalised the vehicles at the Tarqumiya checkpoint and near the Barrier by Beit 'Awwa. Several trucks were damaged," the UN aid office reported.

Unconfirmed media reports showed protesters who have been calling for the release of Israeli hostages blocking the trucks originating from Jordan and stamping on boxes of relief items.

The latest data from the Gaza health authorities indicates that at least 35,000 people have been killed in Gaza since 7 October amid Israeli shelling and ground operations sparked by Hamas-led terror attacks that left some 1,200 people dead in southern Israeli communities and more than 250 taken hostage.