The Israeli military has lifted a ban on the sale of food to Gaza from Israel and the occupied West Bank as its battlefield offensive chokes international aid, according to Palestinian officials, businessmen and international aid workers.

Army authorities gave Gazan traders the green light to resume their purchases from Israeli and Palestinian suppliers of food such as fresh fruit, vegetables and dairy goods this month, days after Israeli forces launched an assault on the enclave's southernmost city of Rafah, the people said.

The offensive against Rafah, a key gateway into Gaza from Egypt, has effectively halted the flow of U.N. aid to the devastated Palestinian territory. Israel is coming under mounting global pressure to ease the crisis as humanitarian agencies warn of looming famine.