As the Israeli army continues its ground operation by steamrolling the Gaza Strip from north to south, with the civilian population fleeing toward the Egyptian border, public order in the areas that Israel has not yet captured is breaking down.
Footage shared over social media during the last few days showed dramatic scenes, as groups of Gazan civilians have been attacking aid deliveries, with some throwing stones at the armed Hamas terrorists guarding the trucks.
Last Wednesday a mob broke into a United Nations warehouse stocked with goods and looted it, leaving the UN with nothing to distribute the following day, the Wall Street Journal reported.
According to UN officials, it is now unable to distribute aid effectively beyond the town of Rafah, on the Strip’s southern border with Egypt. Deliveries to Khan Younis, where the Israeli army has been operating for a week now, have become sporadic and dangerous.
Since the start of the war, the IDF has called on the residents of the northern Gaza Strip to evacuate to the southern part, where several UN camps were created to house and feed them.
In addition, Israel defined an area, near the beach named al-Mawasi, as a humanitarian zone but Hamas terrorists recently fired rockets at Israel from inside the area.
With the breakdown of Hamas’ public control and police capabilities, crime has risen in the crowded areas of the southern Gaza Strip.
The WSJ reported that price-gouging is widespread in the few markets that are still able to sell some rare goods. Flour, for example, is being sold at 20 times its regular price.
In the face of this situation, Martin Griffiths, the UN’s emergency aid chief, told WSJ that “our humanitarian program is no longer functioning.”
The UN and Israel are negotiating about opening a border crossing on the Israeli side for additional aid deliveries and the Israeli government recently voted to allow an increase in fuel deliveries after increasing U.S. pressure to mitigate the brewing humanitarian crisis.
The scope of the humanitarian suffering has even led to once-rare public expressions of anger at Hamas and its leadership by Gazan residents.
During a recent interview on the Palestinian Radio Alam, a Gazan resident who had to flee to the south cursed Hamas leaders Yahya Sinwar and Muhammad Deif.
“I have a message for the Hamas government - 'Go to hell, may God curse you, dogs,'” he said and continued even after the surprised broadcaster tried to calm him.
“Deif is hiding underground, Sinwar - if you hear us, we can’t find water,” he said according to Israel's Kan news.
In another interview on Al Jazeera, an elderly woman who had to flee from Shifa Hospital in Gaza City accused Hamas of stealing the aid from the civilians.
“All the aid went down (to the tunnels) and doesn’t reach the people, we don't find bread, all the aid goes to their houses, let them take them and not shoot, Hamas.”
When the reporter tried to change the subject and asked how she got to the southern Gaza Strip, the woman answered: “The Jews coordinated and brought buses.”
This kind of public criticism by Gaza's civilians against Hamas was once unheard of in the tightly-controlled Gaza Strip and gives an impression both of the level of frustration among the civilian population and of the loss of control by Hamas, even in the areas Israel hasn’t yet captured.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.