Kerem Shalom crossing
Humanitarian aid trucks wait in line to be inspected at the Kerem Shalom crossing, on the border between Israel, Gaza and Egypt on December 12, 2023. Image Credit: COGAT via X/via REUTERS

Geneva: Hunger and desperation are driving people to seize humanitarian aid being delivered to the Gaza Strip, the United Nations said Thursday, warning of a "breakdown of civil order".

International aid organisations have struggled to get supplies to desperate Gazans under Israeli bombardment, with the Rafah crossing in Egypt the only point of entry.

Israel has reopened the Kerem Shalom crossing as an inspection checkpoint to increase the amount of aid reaching the Palestinian territory, but the UN warned this was not enough.

"Everywhere you go people are desperate, hungry and are terrified," said Philippe Lazzarini, the head of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA), at a press conference in Geneva.

"We are teetering on the edge of a possible implosion. We might reach our limit. Why? Because there is more and more a breakdown of civil order."

Lazzarini, who has just returned from Gaza, said he saw people stopping aid trucks to take food and immediately eat it - something he described as "completely new" in the Palestinian territory.

But he said he hadn't heard of any UN or UNRWA trucks being hijacked by Hamas.

"This has nothing to do with aid diversion. This has to do with a total despair," he said, adding that many people UNRWA had met hadn't eaten for one, two or three days.

"With this growing despair, our operating environment becomes more and more difficult," Lazzarini said, adding that the "little aid trickling into Gaza" did not match the "immensity of needs".

He called for a large-scale increase in aid deliveries as the only way, in the absence of a ceasefire, to help alleviate the situation in Gaza.