Video said to show desperate Gazans ransacking UNRWA supplies stockpile

Footage circulating on social media draws anger at UN aid agency, with many accusing it of not distributing desperately needed aid to displaced and hungry Palestinians

Video purporting to show Gazan civilians ransacking supplies stockpiled by UNRWA in early December, 2023. (Screenshot/X)
Video purporting to show Gazan civilians ransacking supplies stockpiled by UNRWA in early December, 2023. (Screenshot/X)

Video circulating on social media on Wednesday was said to show desperate Palestinians in Gaza ransacking an UN relief agency’s stockpile of supplies in the Strip, raising questions about the group’s distribution of aid.

The videos and claims on popular Palestinian social media accounts expressed anger at the UN Relief and Works Agency, known as UNRWA, accusing it of holding on to much-needed aid.

The “Jerusalem Rises” X account, with 250,000 followers, wrote: “Today, people in the Gaza Strip attacked UNRWA warehouses and found large quantities of rice, lentils, flour and oil! While the people are starving and literally have nothing to eat!”

The “Gaza Report” account cited a low-level UNRWA employee as saying he was “shocked by the amount of food, cleaning materials, mattresses, and tents ready, in large numbers, piling up in the warehouses.”

The agency, which is the chief UN body for Palestinians, has long faced accusations of corruption, and Israel has repeatedly accused it of cooperating with the ruling Hamas terror group.

The humanitarian situation in Gaza has grown dire in the weeks since Hamas launched its murderous assault against Israel on October 7, slaughtering around 1,200 people and capturing another 240, some 140 of whom are believed to still be held hostage. In the two months of fighting since, the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry claims more than 16,000 people have been killed, a figure largely in line with estimates by Israel, which says it believes more than 5,000 of them are Hamas operatives.

UNRWA did not appear to publicly respond to the anger, but it tweeted Wednesday afternoon that “several challenges are pushing UNRWA operations to the brink,” blaming heavy Israeli airstrikes and lack of regular aid shipments and limited fuel to make deliveries.

A report on Israeli TV Wednesday showed footage of clashes between Hamas operatives and civilians over supplies, with the civilians yelling expletives at the gunmen. The report said Hamas has been stealing much of the humanitarian supplies that enter the Strip and that residents are aware of this.

Videos earlier this week showed gunmen, presumably Hamas members, looting humanitarian aid trucks crossing into the Gaza Strip from Rafah, as civilians threw rocks at them.

More than 80% of Palestinians living in Gaza are believed to have been displaced during the two months of fighting, with many of them losing their homes and living in tents or makeshift shelters with few provisions.

For the past three days, aid distribution — mainly just supplies of flour and water — has been possible only in and around Rafah, on the border with Egypt, because of fighting and road closures by Israeli forces, the UN’s humanitarian aid office said Wednesday.

Hamza Abu Mustafa, a teacher who lives near a school-turned-shelter in Rafah and is hosting three families himself, said “the situation is extremely dire.”

“You find displaced people in the streets, in schools, in mosques, in hospitals… everywhere.”

Nawraz Abu Libdeh, who is sheltering in Khan Younis after being displaced six times, said the situation in UN-run shelters there is “beyond catastrophic,” with people fighting over food. “The hunger war has started,” he said. “This is the worst of all wars.”

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