After about 5 months of war, prices rose in Gaza as all commercial imports stopped entering after the beginning of the fighting following October 7, as only limited amounts of humanitarian aid arrived.

Most of Gaza's 2.3 million people now live in Rafah near the border crossing with Egypt, most of them in tents and other temporary shelters, after fleeing devastation in other parts of the Strip.

Pictures published on social media platforms showed masked men next to selling tables in markets.

In one of the photos, two men appeared armed with rifles, and in another photo, 6 men armed with clubs appeared.

The pictures showed bandanas on the heads of men armed with clubs with the words “People’s Protection Committee” written in Arabic.

A man who described himself as a member of the committee said in a telephone conversation with Reuters that their move was imposed by circumstances to enforce law and order because police patrols disappeared from the streets after they were targeted by Israeli strikes.

The man, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of Israeli retaliation, said that their move aims to "punish those who exploit people's needs."

The patrol in the Rafah market on Wednesday was seen by Muhammad Abu Imad, a 24-year-old university graduate who fled his home in Gaza City early in the war and now lives in a tent.

He said that the police were a common sight in Rafah until they were recently targeted by raids, and they were supervising the organization of long queues in front of bakeries, stores and banks.

Abu Imad said he was concerned about the appearance of masked men enforcing public order.

He added, "Maybe this is a good thing, but God willing, they will deal with the people in a good manner... We prefer that the war ends and the real police return."

The war began after Hamas fighters stormed Israel, killing 1,200 people and taking 253 hostage, according to Israeli statistics.

The Israeli air and ground campaign then led to the deaths of about 30,000 Palestinians, according to health authorities in Gaza, which is run by Hamas.