Against the backdrop of repeated calls for a humanitarian cease-fire in Gaza, footage released Monday from the southern part of the Strip shows hungry refugees clamoring for aid trucks entering Rafah from Egypt.
Such images may further increase international pressure on Israel and the United States, which continues to support Israel on the worldwide stage while also urging to increase the amount of humanitarian aid entering Gaza.
In one of the videos published by the Associated Press (AP) news agency, an aid truck is seen with an armed individual standing on it while driving through the streets of Rafah.
Images have already arrived from the southern part of the Strip in which Gazans are seen looting the main UN aid distribution centers, and according to the UN World Food Program, aid trucks are moving slowly in the area and are at risk of being attacked by desperate refugees.
In another part of the video published by AP, many Gazans are seen looting what appears to be aid left on the road.
In another piece of footage, published by the BBC in Arabic, Gazan crowds are seen storming another aid truck in Rafah. The people are seen running after it and jumping on it while it’s still moving, and some are seen stealing aid from it.
A group of armed men then appears to emerge out of a white pickup truck while firing into the air, presumably to scare away the looters, while beating some of them who managed to climb onto the truck with their rifle butts. The BBC in Arabic described the armed men as "policemen."
These images come against the backdrop of warnings issued by the UN about the severe humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip, with the organization estimating that 1.9 million of its residents, 85% of the total estimated population of 2.3 million people, have been displaced from their homes and are coping with lacking conditions in the southern part of the Strip.
UN World Food Program senior officials Carl Skau, claimed recently that half of the Strip's residents are malnourished, and according to him, nine out of ten Gazans struggle to eat regularly every day.
One of the Gazan refugees, who requested to stay anonymous, told Reuters that he hasn't eaten for three days and is forced to beg to get bread for his children. In an interview via telephone, he said, "I pretend to be strong but I am afraid I will collapse in front of them at any moment."
“Had any of us expected that our people may die of hunger, had it crossed anyone’s mind before?” said Rola Ghanim, a Palestinian who expressed her anger on the situation on her X (formerly Twitter) account.
In recent days, Rafah has become a haven for refugees. While 280,000 people lived in the city before the war, an additional 470,000 Gazan refugees have flocked to it. Rafah is situated between Khan Yunis and Egypt, which said it won’t be ready to absorb Gazan refugees into its territory.
A massive tent complex has been set up in the area near Rafah, and the exact number of refugees who have already arrived there is difficult to estimate. With the progress of the war and the advancement of the IDF ground operation deeper into the strip, more and more Gazans are moving southward.
The IDF maintains ambiguity regarding the continuation of the ground operation, and in response to the Wall Street Journal's question asking whether forces will also reach Rafah, the military responded, "We don’t comment on future plans."
As part of the effort to assist the thousands of refugees in Gaza, the UN has pressed Israel in recent days to open the entry of aid trucks through the Kerem Shalom crossing, located on the Israel-Gaza-Egypt border.
Israel last week agreed to allow trucks entering from Egypt through the Rafah crossing to undergo a preliminary inspection at the Israeli checkpoint, which is supposed to expedite the process of delivering aid. However, it has not yet been opened for the direct entry of aid trucks into Gaza.
The Government Coordinator in the Territories (COGAT) on Monday placed responsibility for the shortage created in the Gaza Strip on the UN, claiming that it delays allowing the entry of aid trucks waiting at the Rafah crossing into the Strip.
“We have expanded our capabilities to conduct inspections for the aid delivered into Gaza,” the institute wrote on its X account. “Kerem Shalom is to be opened, so the amount of inspections will double. But the aid keeps waiting at the entrance of Rafah. The UN must do better - the aid is there, and the people need it.”