NUSSEIRAT, JAN. 19 -- Ahmed Annouri opened the door of his aged refrigerator this morning and displayed the sad contents inside. There were a few bruised eggplants and moldy potatoes, a dark-brown cauliflower and several tomatoes with blue-and-white spots.

In the kitchen, his wife, Asmiya, had begun preparing lunch for the nine adults and 18 children of the Annouri household, using wood for her fire because the cooking gas ran out last week. There was no meat or eggs for the adults, no milk for the children, nothing but rice, a small bag of carefully rationed lentils and a curious green vegetable -- a clover from nearby fields called hubaysa that people boil in salt to make edible.

"We are eating like animals eat," said Annouri, 34, who has lived all his life in this refugee camp in central Gaza. "There is nothing in the shops and the situation is very bad."

For 11 straight days, the Israeli Army has closed off Nusseirat and six other Palestinian refugee camps in the occupied Gaza Strip in an attempt to smother civil violence, which has wracked the region for six weeks and resulted in at least 38 deaths of Arabs here and in the West Bank -- most of them during clashes with Israeli troops.

Israeli officials blame striking Palestinian merchants for any food shortages, and the government has barred some foreign relief shipments, with the Army turning away truckloads of food contributed by groups, including Israelis, that the government considers politically unacceptable.

Except for an hour each day when the Army allows women on the streets, the 200,000 Palestinians have been confined to their houses, kept away from jobs, shops and schools. The press has been banned from the camps. Soldiers generally enter only in motorized patrols and at night they periodically round up suspected rioters. Residents say electricity and telephones have been cut off in some sections for hours, even days.

The result, as senior defense officials predicted, has been a gradual return to tranquillity. The young stone throwers, the burning barricades and the confrontations with armed soldiers that were a constant feature at these camps a week ago have largely disappeared. No one has been shot dead by soldiers in Gaza since Friday.

But the price has been high. Residents and the U.N. relief workers who operate the camps say food supplies are low, especially for the very young and the elderly. Some U.N. trucks have been allowed into the camps. Others have been turned away. While there is no starvation, residents contend there is much hardship.

Women who have tried to leave the camps to seek food say they have been intercepted by soldiers, who confiscated and destroyed their supplies and, in some cases, assaulted them. Israeli military spokesmen concede such incidents may have occurred but they contend tough measures are necessary to enforce the curfew and restore order.

"If they do come out, they get into trouble," said Maj. Uri Bar Lev, an Army spokesman stationed outside Nusseirat today. Soldiers who find a woman violating the curfew "confiscate whatever she has or throw her food on the ground or maybe even they beat her up," he said. "I can't guarantee it won't happen. If there is no punishment it {the curfew} will be pointless. But the average young Israeli soldier is not a woman beater."

Israeli officials, including Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin, contend the camps have adequate food supplies. Touring the West Bank today, Rabin told reporters any shortages that might exist were a result of commercial strikes and protests. "If they want to strike and not supply food," he said of the Palestinians, "they shouldn't cry afterward that there's a food shortage."

{Rocks were thrown onto a street about 15 yards in front of Rabin's entourage at the Jelazoun refugee camp 10 miles north of Jerusalem today, hitting two journalists, The Associated Press reported.

{Palestinian residents of the camp complained about recent widespread arrests, with one shouting, "You've taken a lot of young people away without a reason," AP said. Rabin responded, "Everybody who was taken away deserves it, and until there is quiet, that's how it's going to be."}

Rabin also said the Army would block food shipments from foreign charities and other groups seeking to make what he called political gain from the curfews. Later today, soldiers at the Erez checkpoint in Gaza turned away four truckloads of food supplies sponsored by Israeli leftists.

Meanwhile, the government is locked in a bitter dispute with officials of the U.N. Relief and Works Agency over U.N. efforts to make daily shipments.

The Israelis contend that the U.N. agency, most of whose workers are Palestinians, is taking part in a propaganda war against Israel by distorting conditions inside the camps. Their idea, a senior military official charged, is to portray residents as besieged by a hostile military power and draw a parallel between the situation here and the siege of refugee camps by Shiite Moslem militiamen in Lebanon.

U.N. officials reject that allegation. "We are international humanitarian civil servants trying to do a job here," said UNRWA spokesman William Lee. "We have feeding programs for mothers and children and health care programs and the Israelis know what our job is and they know what is required to run these programs. We're not looking for a false confrontation."

Lee described the food situation in the camps as "serious but not critical. People have not had enough time or opportunity to stock up. I don't think they're starving but if it goes on like this . . . the situation is not going to improve."

The camps are closed off, but not completely sealed. Some women come out daily to the main road seeking cars with food for sale or donation. At Nusseirat, they use a winding dirt trail that passes over an open sewer and through an orange grove out of the sight of the soldiers. Residents led a handful of journalists into the camp and into neighboring Bureij camp this morning.

The unpaved streets of Nusseirat, population 30,000, are like a ghost town. Nothing moves, neither cars nor people, except for the occasional Israeli armored personnel carrier making its rounds.

But behind the walls of the compounds, families try to carry on normal lives. The Annouris have lived here since 1948, when the family left the Israeli city of Ashdod. There are the family matriarch, four brothers, all of them married, and 18 children.

Ahmed, the oldest male, has worked for years as a day laborer in Israel but he said he has not been able to get to work since the violence began on Dec. 9. He said he stopped going out of his home l0 days ago when soldiers caught him on the streets and beat him on his arms and legs.

When the clashes began last month, the Israelis tried to encourage workers to go to their jobs and merchants to open their shops in an effort to maintain normality and forge a practical alliance with older residents, many of whom look upon the young stone throwers with ambivalence and fear. But, Rabin conceded in an interview yesterday, "It didn't work. We had to use other measures."

Now the emphasis is on what Israeli defense commentator Zeev Schiff calls "environmental pressure" -- imposing the curfew, keeping workers away from their jobs, carrying out nightly roundups -- in the hope that this will quell the violence. The search for allies has been abandoned for a policy that Rabin described today as "force with wisdom."

Military officials say most of the riot instigators come from these camps. By closing them off, they contend, they hope to free the local population from intimidation. But the commercial strike in Gaza City, Khan Yunis and Rafah remained in full force today. In the West Bank, soldiers forced shops in Ramallah to open but the strike in Arab East Jerusalem appeared unabated.

Women are not immune from harsh treatment, residents said. At Bureij, Umm Akkram, 45, showed bruises and cuts on her shins that she said she had suffered two days ago on the main road when a soldier pushed her into a ditch, after she had gone out because she heard a food truck was coming.

Her husband, Abu Akkram, 52, normally works as a street sweeper in Rehovot, Israel. But he said he has not been able to go to work for nearly six weeks.

Three days ago, he said, he heard an Israeli loudspeaker announce the curfew was being lifted for an hour. He ran to a nearby shop to buy kerosene but on the way home, he said, a patrol of soldiers stopped him and dumped the fuel on the ground.

"They said the curfew had been lifted only for women," Abu Akkram said. He has not been outside his compound since then.

Lee of UNRWA said food trucks were allowed into the Khan Yunis and Jabaliya camps today, but were prevented from entering Deir Balah and Bureij.

Outside Nusseirat, two UNRWA trucks loaded with bread, cooking oil and powdered and canned milk were waiting at 8 a.m. today. Finally at 3 p.m. they were allowed in and a loudspeaker truck preceded them announcing that women and children would be allowed to leave their homes for one hour to get supplies.

"Sometimes they lift it in the morning, sometimes in the afternoon, and sometimes they don't lift it at all," said an UNRWA driver as he waited.