- Civil order “begins to collapse” – UNRWA
- Aid supplies were choked under Israeli bombardment
- At least 59 UNRWA staff were killed in Gaza
Oct 29 (Reuters) – Thousands of Gazans stormed UN warehouses on Sunday and seized flour and other basic items, the United Nations Palestine refugee agency (UNRWA) said, a sign they have reached a “breaking point.”
One of the warehouses is located in Deir al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip, where UNRWA stores supplies delivered by humanitarian convoys crossing into Gaza from Egypt.
Footage from Khan Yunis in southern Gaza showed men frantically carrying boxes and large bags from a warehouse, hoisting them on their shoulders or carrying them on their bicycles.
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) said in a statement, “This is a worrying sign that the civil order has begun to collapse after three weeks of war and a tightening siege on Gaza.”
Juliette Touma, director of UNRWA communications, told Reuters from Amman, Jordan, that the scenes in warehouses and distribution centers show people’s desperation.
“This is an indication that people in Gaza have reached a breaking point,” she said. “The levels of frustration and despair are already very high, and people are hitting rock bottom when it comes to their patience and ability to take more.”
Aid supplies to Gaza have been halted since Israel began bombing the densely populated Palestinian enclave in response to a deadly attack by the ruling Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) on October 7.
Touma said that UNRWA was forced to reduce the size of its humanitarian operations in the densely populated sector because it was unable to distribute fuel to some medical facilities. She said that UNRWA did not receive any additional supplies on Sunday.
“These supplies are very few and do not meet the huge needs on the ground,” she added.
He added: “We demand a steady and regular flow of humanitarian supplies, including fuel, and an increase in the number of trucks in these convoys.”
UNRWA said that its ability to help people in Gaza was completely reduced due to air strikes that killed dozens of its employees and restricted the movement of supplies.
“Fifty-nine UNRWA colleagues were killed during the war,” Touma said.
“This is the only number that UNRWA has been able to verify and confirm. Unfortunately, the number of colleagues killed could actually be higher. We also have reports of people stuck under the rubble.”
Even before the conflict, the organization had said its operations were at risk due to a lack of funding.
Founded in 1949 following the First Arab-Israeli War, UNRWA provides public services including schools, health care and humanitarian aid in Gaza, the West Bank, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.
(Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber in Geneva and John Davison in Jerusalem – Preparing by Muhammad for the Arab Bulletin) Editing by Alison Williams, Alexander Smith and Giles Elgood
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