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Gaza residents break into U.N. warehouse for supplies as Israeli barrage continues

A man stands amid the rubble of a building in the aftermath of Israeli bombing in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on Sunday.
Mohammed Abed
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AFP via Getty Images
A man stands amid the rubble of a building in the aftermath of Israeli bombing in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on Sunday.

Updated October 29, 2023 at 9:27 PM ET

Thousands of Gaza residents broke into warehouses and distribution centers of the United Nations Palestinian refugee agency, grabbing flour and "basic survival items," the organization said on Sunday.

"This is a worrying sign that civil order is starting to break down after three weeks of war and a tight siege on Gaza," the organization said in a statement.

Israeli raids on the Gaza Strip were intense overnight. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said it had struck more than 450 terror targets during the past day, and that Israeli forces continue to expand ground activities. It added that an IDF officer was severely injured by a mortar shell in the northern Gaza Strip.

Speaking Sunday morning, IDF spokesperson Daniel Hagari said that "fighting in the north of the Gaza Strip continues and expands ... we will do what we must to achieve the goals of the war."

Israeli attacks have killed at least 8,005 and injured more than 20,000 people in Gaza, including 3,324 children, the health ministry in Gaza said on Sunday.

Palestinians inspect the rubble of a house after it was struck by an Israeli airstrike in Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip, Sunday, Oct. 29, 2023.
Fatima Shbair / AP
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AP
Palestinians inspect the rubble of a house after it was struck by an Israeli airstrike in Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip on Sunday.

As the barrage continues, the Palestinian Red Crescent said on Sunday it received warnings from Israeli authorities to immediately evacuate the al-Quds hospital in the Gaza Strip.

"Since this morning, there has been raids 50 meters away from the hospital," it added in a statement on Facebook. Israel declined to comment on the claims.

Meanwhile, an official said Israel is aiming for a significant increase in aid to Gaza in the coming days, calling on Palestinian civilians to head to what he described as a "humanitarian" zone in the south of the territory.

"In the coming week we were planning to increase dramatically the amount of assistance" headed for Gaza from Egypt, said Colonel Elad Goren of COGAT, the Israel Ministry of Defense agency that coordinates with the Palestinians.

The White House said President Biden spoke with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi on Sunday. "The two leaders committed to the significant acceleration and increase of assistance flowing into Gaza beginning today and then continuously," the White House said.

Palestinians walk about buildings destroyed in the Israeli bombardment in the Nusseirat refugee camp in the Gaza Strip on Sunday, Oct. 29, 2023.
Hatem Moussa / AP
/
AP
Palestinians walk about buildings destroyed in the Israeli bombardment in the Nusseirat refugee camp in the Gaza Strip on Sunday.

A trickle of aid has been allowed to enter Gaza through the Rafah border crossing with Egypt. Thirty-four trucks with food and medical supplies entered on Sunday, the Palestine Red Crescent Society said, bringing the total to 118 since the start of the war. Aid groups say the total is a small fraction of what would normally cross into Gaza before the war.

Biden also spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday and "underscored the need to immediately and significantly increase the flow of humanitarian assistance to meet the needs of civilians in Gaza," the White House said.

Palestinians walk about buildings destroyed in the Israeli bombardment in the Nusseirat refugee camp in the Gaza Strip on Sunday, Oct. 29, 2023.
Hatem Moussa / AP
/
AP
Palestinians walk about buildings destroyed in the Israeli bombardment in the Nusseirat refugee camp in the Gaza Strip on Sunday.

And after a communications blackout that lasted more than 30 hours, mobile and landline phone services and internet access are being restored, the Ministry of Telecommunications and Information Technology in Gaza said.

A leading Palestinian communications company, the Paltel Group, says its phone and internet networks are gradually being restored.

Virtually all communications went down Friday evening, around the time Israeli ground troops entered the northern part of Gaza.

Meanwhile, Netanyahu, following backlash from Israeli politicians, was forced to delete an online statement saying that he'd had no warning of the Oct. 7 attack. It was seen as pinning blame on security chiefs.

Netanyahu deleted his tweet and said "I was mistaken," and that he apologized for the comments.

James Doubek contributed reporting.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Corrected: October 29, 2023 at 12:00 AM EDT
An earlier version of this story misidentified Benjamin Netanyahu as the president of Israel. Netanyahu is Israel's prime minister.
Robbie Griffiths
Greg Myre
Greg Myre is a national security correspondent with a focus on the intelligence community, a position that follows his many years as a foreign correspondent covering conflicts around the globe.