‘UN Staff Arrested, Stripped Naked’ – UNRWA Slams Israeli Denial of Aid Convoys

UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini meets with displaced people in southern Gaza. (Photo: Mohamed Hinnawi, via UNRWA)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff  

The past while, Lazzarini added, recorded “an increase in the denial of humanitarian access and attacks on humanitarian workers and convoys.”

Israeli authorities continue to deny humanitarian access to the United Nations in the besieged Gaza Strip, according to the UN Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) Chief, Philippe Lazzarini, who was also denied entry into the enclave for the second time this week.

“Just this week, they have denied – for the second time- my entry to Gaza where I planned to be with our UNRWA teams including those on the front lines,” Lazzarini said on X on Sunday. He was first denied entry in early March at a time when new data had found that famine was imminent in the northern Gaza Strip.

The past while, Lazzarini added, recorded “an increase in the denial of humanitarian access & attacks on humanitarian workers and convoys.”

“Only in the past 2 weeks, we have recorded 10 incidents involving shooting at convoys, arrests of UN staff including bullying, stripping them naked, threats with arms & long delays at checkpoints forcing convoys to move during the dark or abort,” Lazzarini said.

‘Unprecedented’ – Israel Denies UNRWA Chief Entry to Gaza

Race ‘to Avert Famine’

He emphasized that these incidents are “repeatedly” happening “at the time we are engaged in a race against the clock to avert famine in Gaza. It also creates fear among courageous & committed humanitarian teams.”

Lazzarini said since the beginning of the war, the UN including UNRWA and other humanitarian personnel, premises and operations have been “blatantly disregarded.”

In January, Israel accused UNRWA employees in Gaza of having participated in the October 7 resistance operation, in an attempt to defame and discredit the vital aid relief agency at a time it has been most needed in the besieged enclave. As a result, more than a dozen countries suspended financial aid to the organization.

US to Suspend UNRWA Funding until March 2025 – Reports

The UN last month closed five cases of allegations that its relief workers were involved in the operation, amid a notable lack of evidence given by Israel in support of its claims.

Several countries have since resumed funding to the aid agency.

Probe Demanded

Lazzarini demanded “an independent investigation & accountability for the blatant disregard of humanitarian workers, operations, and facilities, all protected under international law. To do otherwise would set a dangerous precedent and compromise humanitarian work around the world.”

‘No Evidence’ – UN Closes Probes into 5 UNRWA Workers Accused by Israel

Senior UN officials warned earlier this year of “imminent” famine in northern Gaza by May.

According to Gaza’s government media office, 30 children have already died as a result of starvation.

Lazzarini called on the Israeli authorities to facilitate humanitarian access across the Gaza Strip including to the north.

“The denial of humanitarian access is a violation of humanitarian law,” the UNRWA chief stressed.

Staggering Death Toll

Currently on trial before the International Court of Justice for genocide against Palestinians, Israel has been waging a devastating war on Gaza since October 7.

According to Gaza’s Ministry of Health, 34,683 Palestinians have been killed, and 78,018 wounded in Israel’s ongoing genocide in Gaza starting on October 7.

Moreover, at least 11,000 people are unaccounted for, presumed dead under the rubble of their homes throughout the Strip.

Palestinian and international organizations say that the majority of those killed and wounded are women and children.

The Israeli war has resulted in an acute famine, mostly in northern Gaza, resulting in the death of many Palestinians, mostly children.

Israel Launches Rafah Operation – Breaking

The Israeli aggression has also resulted in the forceful displacement of nearly two million people from all over the Gaza Strip, with the vast majority of the displaced forced into the densely crowded southern city of Rafah near the border with Egypt – in what has become Palestine’s largest mass exodus since the 1948 Nakba.

Israel says that 1,200 soldiers and civilians were killed during the Al-Aqsa Flood Operation on October 7. Israeli media published reports suggesting that many Israelis were killed on that day by ‘friendly fire’.

(The Palestine Chronicle)

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