DESPERATE Thousands loot UN aidwarehouses in Gaza
   Date :30-Oct-2023

THOUSANDS of people broke into aid warehouses in Gaza to take flour and basic hygiene products, a UN agency said on Sunday, in a mark of growing desperation and the breakdown of public order three weeks into the war between Israel and Gaza’s militant Hamas rulers. The Health Ministry in Hamas-ruled Gaza on Sunday said, over 8,000 Palestinians have been killed since war broke out on October 7. It said that the toll has risen to 8,005 Palestinians, including more than 3,300 minors and over 2,000 women. More than 1,400 people have been killed on the Israeli side, the vast majority civilians killed by Hamas in its bloody October 7 incursion into Israel. Tanks and infantry pushed into Gaza over the weekend as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced a “second stage” in the war, three weeks after Hamas launched a brutal incursion into Israel. The widening ground offensive came as Israel also pounded the territory from air, land and sea. The bombardment — described by Gaza residents as the most intense of the war — knocked out most communications in the territory on late Friday, largely cutting off the besieged enclave’s 2.3 million people from the world. Communications were restored to much of Gaza early Sunday. The Israeli military said on Sunday it had struck over 450 militant targets over the past 24 hours, including Hamas command centers, observation posts and anti-tank missile launching positions. It said more ground forces were sent into Gaza overnight. Thomas White, Gaza for the U.N. Agency for Palestinian refugees, known as UNRWA, said the warehouse break-ins were “a worrying sign that civil order is starting to break down after three weeks of war and a tight siege on Gaza. People are scared, frustrated and desperate,” he said.
UNRWA provides basic services to hundreds of thousands of people in Gaza. Its schools across the territory have been transformed into packed shelters housing Palestinians displaced by the conflict. Israel has allowed only a small trickle of aid to enter from Egypt, some of which was stored in one of the warehouses that was broken into, UNRWA said. Juliette Touma, a spokesperson for the agency, said the crowds broke into four facilities on Saturday. She said the warehouses did not contain any fuel, which has been in critically short supply since Israel cut off all shipments after the start of the war. Residents living near Shifa Hospital, Gaza’s largest, meanwhile said Israeli airstrikes overnight hit near the hospital complex and blocked many roads leading to it. Israel accuses Hamas of having a secret command post beneath the hospital, without providing much evidence. Tens of thousands of civilians are sheltering in Shifa, which is also packed with patients wounded in the strikes. “Reaching the hospital has become increasingly difficult,” Mahmoud al-Sawah, who is sheltering in the hospital, saidoverthephone.
“It seems they want to cut off the area.” Another Gaza City resident,Abdallah Sayed,said the Israeli bombing over the past two days was “the most violentandintense”sincethe war started. TheArmyrecentlyreleased computer-generatedimages showing what it said were Hamas installations in and aroundShifaHospital,aswell asinterrogationsofcaptured Hamas fighters who might have been speaking under duress. Israel has made similar claims before, but has not substantiated them. Little is known about Hamas’ tunnels and other infrastructure,andtheclaims could not be independently verified.Hamas’government denied the allegations and said they were aimed at justifying future strikes on the facility. The Palestinian Red Crescent rescue service said another Gaza City hospital receivedtwocallsfromIsraeli authoritiesonSundayordering it to evacuate. It said airstrikes have hit as close as 50meters(yards)fromtheAlQudsHospital,where 12,000 people are sheltering. Israelhadorderedthehospital to evacuate more than a week ago, but it and other medical facilities have refused,sayingitwouldmean death for patients on ventilators. There was no immediate Israeli comment on the latest evacuation order or the strikes near Shifa.