UN agency in Gaza War Update

GAZA:

The UN agency for Palestinian refugees was under pressure after staff members were accused of participating in the October 7 attacks,

while fighting in Gaza sent more people fleeing south towards the Egyptian border.

Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz called for Philippe Lazzarini, the head of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, to quit over the deepening row and several countries suspended funding.

The agency said on Friday it had fired several employees over Israel’s unspecified accusations and promised a thorough investigation.

“Mr Lazzarini please resign,” Katz said on social media platform X late on Saturday in response to a post by the UNRWA chief warning that the funding cuts meant the agency’s operation in Gaza was close to collapse.

Katz said earlier that UNRWA “must be replaced with agencies dedicated to genuine peace and development” in the rebuilding of Gaza after the territory’s bloodiest war.

 

Donors including Germany, Britain, Italy, Australia, and Finland on Saturday followed the lead of the United States, which said it had suspended additional funding to the agency over the accusations.

Hamas slammed Israeli “threats” against UNRWA on Saturday, urging the United Nations and other international organizations not to “cave into the threats and blackmail”.

The Israeli military’s offensive in response to Hamas’ October 7 attacks has killed

at least 26,257 Palestinians, most of them women and children.

Protesters call for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war as they demonstrate outside the home of

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Arlington, Virginia, on January 27, 2024. PHOTO: AFP

The resistance group’s October 7 attack had resulted in about 1,140 deaths of Israeli settlers.

The fighters also seized about 250 hostages and Israel says around 132 of them remain in Gaza, including the bodies of at least 28 dead captives.

Long-strained relations between Israel and UNRWA deteriorated rapidly after the UN body condemned tank

shelling it said had hit a shelter for displaced people in Gaza’s main southern city of Khan Yunis on Wednesday.

It said tens of thousands of displaced people had been registered at the shelter

and that the tank shelling killed 13 people.

The Israeli military has promised a thorough review but has also said it was examining the

possibility it was a “result of Hamas fire”.

Its military campaign is now centered around Khan Yunis, the hometown of Hamas’s Gaza chief

Yahya Sinwar, where said on Saturday that numerous militants were killed.

Read Security Council to meet after UN top court’s Gaza ruling

The armed factions of Islamic Jihad and Hamas stated that there had been intense fighting

throughout the night in and around Khan Yunis, with militants firing mortar rounds toward Israeli tanks.

They said that there had also been fighting in several Gaza City neighborhoods and farther north,

as well as rockets fired into southern Israel.

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