Thousands of people in Gaza are resorting to looting aid warehouses as the ongoing war with Israel creates a desperate situation, according to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA). The agency reported that mass looting has occurred in distribution centers, with people taking essential items like flour. This development is seen as a worrying sign of civil order breaking down after three weeks of war and a tight siege on Gaza.
Thomas White, the UNRWA Affairs director, expressed concern about the deteriorating situation, stating, “People are scared, frustrated and desperate.” He highlighted that several aid warehouses, including a facility in Deir al-Balah, were looted on Saturday, exacerbating the desperate circumstances faced by the population.
With over 8,000 Palestinians killed amidst Israeli bombing, the situation has been further aggravated by the loss of internet and cellular phone services. White emphasized that the cuts in communication have increased tensions and fears among the inhabitants of Gaza. They now feel isolated and disconnected from their families and the rest of the world.
On Sunday, Israeli attacks reportedly intensified, including airstrikes near Gaza’s largest hospital. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) claimed that Hamas terrorists were using the hospital as their main command center, and they accused Hamas of building an extensive network of tunnels and bunkers underneath the facility. The IDF also cut off Gaza’s internet and telecommunications links and deployed ground forces to the area.
The UNRWA highlighted the significant displacement of civilians from northern Gaza, where the majority of Israel’s attacks are concentrated, to the south. It is not uncommon for multiple families to seek shelter in one household, with some homes accommodating up to 50 relatives.
Although humanitarian aid began to trickle into Gaza a week ago, only a little over 80 trucks have crossed into the strip from Egypt. The UNRWA faced challenges coordinating the aid convoy’s passage on Saturday due to the loss of telecommunications services. However, as of Sunday morning, phone and internet services were restored.
The UNRWA expressed concerns about the inadequacy of the humanitarian aid, stating that supplies on the market are running out while the aid coming from Egypt is insufficient. Thomas White emphasized the immense needs of the communities for basic survival and the inconsistency of the aid received. He called for a regular and steady flow of humanitarian supplies into Gaza to address the growing tensions and frustrations.
The UNRWA also criticized the current system for receiving aid trucks, describing it as “geared to fail.” White cited insufficient trucks, lengthy inspection processes, and inadequate supplies as significant issues that need to be addressed to ensure effective aid delivery. The agency stressed the urgency of a consistent flow of humanitarian supplies to meet the pressing needs of the population in Gaza.
As the situation in Gaza continues to deteriorate, with escalating Israeli attacks and a shortage of essential supplies, the international community faces the challenge of providing sufficient aid and support to alleviate the desperate conditions faced by the people of Gaza.