The number of Gazans living in "abject" poverty has tripled this year to 300,000, or one in five residents, the Gaza head of the UN agency helping Palestinian refugees said Thursday. Gaza's economy has foundered under an Israeli-Egyptian border blockade imposed after Hamas seized control of the territory in 2007 from forces loyal to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. John Ging, the UN Relief and Works Agency's top official in Gaza, called the rise in poverty a "predictable consequence" of the border blockade. "The suffering, the impoverishment, the misery of the people here in Gaza continues to rise because of a man-made crisis, a political failure," Ging told reporters. The blockade's toll on Gaza residents was compounded by IDF in Operation Cast Lead, which aimed to stop Palestinian rocket fire at southern Israel. Thousands of homes, government buildings and businesses were destroyed during the three-week operation. UN staff stated the rise also reflected improved monitoring of refugees' economic conditions. The UN agency provides services, including emergency food rations, to 750,000 of Gaza's 1.4 million residents. Those who are unable to feed their families are considered "abject poor" and receive extra aid, the agency said. Ging said lifting the blockade is the only way to stop Gaza's rising poverty, and appealed for more funding to help his agency meet the growing need.