Video: Crisis in Gaza?

By Richard Engel Chief foreign correspondent
NBC News
updated 7/12/2006 7:26:56 PM ET 2006-07-12T23:26:56

Palestinians scrambled to collect food Wednesday during the last distribution the United Nations says it can provide until Israel allows in more supplies.

The Israeli army estimates Gaza will run out of frozen meat, animal feed and dairy products this week.

As dwindling flour stocks are unloaded, 75-year-old Umm Ahmed collects beans and rice for the 13 people in her home.

“I don't have water, gas or power at home,” she says.

Israel destroyed Gaza's only power plant two weeks ago. Now electricity is out 12-18 hours a day.

Hospitals function but only take emergency cases.

“For the people living here, it's a struggle just to survive now,” says John Ging with the U.N. Relief and Works Agency. “Everybody who can possibly get out has gotten out.”

Gaza was alreadysuffering from economic sanctions on the Hamas government. Policemen and government workers haven't been paid here since February. The markets are still crowded, but people say this is among the worst economic situations they have ever had to live through. While many people are buying fruit and vegetables, a lot of people are also selling everything they have.

We found Marwa Hussein selling her most valuable possession, a gold necklace, so she can buy groceries.

“I'm OK,” she said, but “there are many people who have nothing to sell.”

Such as Attej, his wife Fathija and their family of 14 — they are among the 1,000 Palestinians who fled the fighting and are now living in a school.

“I came because the children were screaming because of all the shooting,” says Fathija.

Wednesday night, there are new fears of disease — as trash rots uncollected and raw sewage spills into the sea where children fish and play.

The Israeli government says it has no intention to starve Gaza and has let in more than 200 tons of food over the last two days. But people here say it is not nearly enough.

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