Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, on Wednesday, called for the shutdown of the UN Palestinian Refugee Agency (UNRWA) while his military carried out additional airstrikes. Netanyahu claimed that the refugee agency had been “totally infiltrated” by Hamas. This comes after several countries suspended funding to the agency after Israel claimed that 12 UNRWA staffers participated in the October 7 attack.
While donors including the United Stated paused funding – pending an investigation, the aid agency said that ending the UNRWA operations would only wreck humanitarian efforts in war-torn Gaza.
Meanwhile, the Palestinians accused Israel of distorting information to discredit UNRWA, which serves as a crucial source of day-to-day assistance for over half of Gaza’s population.
Aside from the US, Britain, Germany, Japan as well have announced their suspension of aid to UNRWA.
“It (UNRWA) has been in the service of Hamas, in its schools and many other things,” Netanyahu said at the meeting according to AFP.
“I say this with great regret because we hoped that there would be an objective and constructive body to offer aid. We need such a body today in Gaza, but UNRWA is not that body”, Israel’s PM added.
He told the visiting UN delegates that the international community and the UN itself needs to understand that UNRWA’s mission has to end. He urged for the replacement of UNRWA with other aid agencies, and said that this change is important to address the challenges in Gaza as per their intention.
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Earlier, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres described UNRWA as “the backbone of all humanitarian response in Gaza” and appealed to all countries to “guarantee the continuity of UNRWA’s life-saving work”.
Escalation Of Attack In Gaza
According to Reuters, witnesses in Gaza have said that Israel has escalated its airstrikes in the north and in parts of Khan Younis in the south. This occurred despite what appeared to be the most serious peace initiative for months in the Israel-Hamas war.
The Palestinian militant group, Hamas which governs Gaza, is currently reviewing a proposal that entails the release of the remaining hostages, which are assumed to be 136 individuals in Israel. Hamas has demanded an end to Israel’s offensive.
Gaza health authorities said 26,900 Palestinians had been killed – including 150 over the past 24 hours – so far in the war that was triggered after Hamas fighters stormed into Israeli towns on October 7, killing 1,200 and taking 253 hostages.
According to Reuters, Israel’s military said its forces had killed at least 25 Palestinian militants in Gaza in the past 24 hours, and that three Israeli soldiers had been killed, taking to 224 the number of troops killed during Israel’s ground offensive.