Gaza Strip | UNRWA wants investigation into Israel attacks, resumption of funding

(United Nations) The UN agency for Palestinian refugees, in turmoil for months in the Gaza Strip, on Tuesday called for an “investigation” by the Security Council into the attacks by Israel which it said killed 180 employees since the start of the war and is counting on a resumption of its frozen financing.

UNRWA head Philippe Lazzarini responded to the press on Tuesday at the United Nations headquarters in New York to a report by experts led by former French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna. This “independent” group pointed out on Monday the lack of political “neutrality” of the UN humanitarian agency while recognizing that it was “irreplaceable” for the 5.9 million Palestinians in the region.

After more than six months of the Israeli offensive against Hamas, Mr. Lazzarini declared that he had “asked the members of the Security Council for an independent investigation into responsibility for the blatant disregard for the UN premises, the staff of the UN and UN operations in the Gaza Strip.

“As of today, 180 UNRWA employees [avaient] been killed […] and more than 160 premises damaged or completely destroyed,” detailed the Italian-Swiss UN leader.


Displaced Palestinians, who fled their homes due to Israeli strikes, are sheltering in a UNRWA-affiliated school in Deir Al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip.

His agency, which has more than 30,000 people throughout the region, is accused by Israel of having “more than 400 terrorists” in its ranks in the Gaza Strip.

And 12 people are singled out by the Israelis for having been, according to them, directly involved in the unprecedented attack of October 7, 2023 carried out by Hamas on Israeli soil which left 1,170 dead, mainly civilians, according to a report by AFP established from official data.

Funding freeze

But according to Catherine Colonna’s report, “UNRWA has not received evidence from Israel” of possible involvement of Palestinian employees with “terrorist organizations” like Hamas.

Which does not mean, the former French minister clarified in New York on Monday, that this “evidence does not exist”.

The fact remains that in January the Israeli allegations caused the freezing of funding from around fifteen donors such as the United States and the United Kingdom. Since then, a number of states have reopened their coffers, such as the Scandinavian countries, Japan, Germany, France and Canada.

The European Union even called on all donors on Tuesday to continue their support for UNRWA.

But the White House called for “real progress” before reopening the American wallet closed until March 2025 due to a budget law passed in March suspending all funding of UNRWA by the United States for a period. year.

” Trust ”

In total, 450 million dollars were frozen at a time when the 2.3 million inhabitants of the Gaza Strip are experiencing a humanitarian catastrophe and need emergency aid, recalled Mr. Lazzarini.


The head of UNRWA, Philippe Lazzarini

He said “hope that with the report [Colonna] and the measures we are going to implement, the last group of donors will have enough confidence to come back as partners of the agency.

The head of UNRWA plans to hold on financially “until the end of June” and operate “for the moment on a day-to-day basis” thanks to the collection of “100 million dollars” in private donations, an “extraordinary sign of solidarity.” ground “.

But Philippe Lazzarini, a target of Israel for months, retaliated after the diplomacy of the Jewish state had qualified UNRWA in Gaza on Monday evening as a “rotten and poisonous tree whose roots are Hamas”.

“The real objective behind the attacks on UNRWA is political in nature: it is to deprive Palestinians of refugee status, starting with Gaza, Jerusalem and the West Bank,” he said. And “that’s exactly what we heard [la semaine dernière] to the Council [de sécurité] from the Israeli ambassador [à l’ONU, Gilad Erdan]. It’s a state objective.”

Mr. Lazzarini then warned: in the event of “dismantling” of his agency, there could be a “famine” which already threatens the north of the Palestinian territory where more than 34,000 people, most of them civilians, have been killed since the start of the Israeli offensive, according to the Hamas Ministry of Health.

In order to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid, Washington will begin the construction of a pier in Gaza “very soon”, the Pentagon said on Tuesday.

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