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Head of the UN’s lead agency slams Israel for seeking to destroy it

via Reuters
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The head of UNRWA accused Israel of aiming to destroy the agency and the idea of Palestinian refugees’ right of return.

Israel alleged Hamas infiltration in UNRWA, leading to funding suspensions. UNRWA faces potential halt in operations due to funding cuts.

“At the moment, we are dealing with an expanded, concentrated Israeli campaign, which is aimed at destroying UNRWA,” Philippe Lazzarini said.

The U.S. prohibits further funding to UNRWA but wants critical aid functions to continue.

UNRWA’s role in Gaza is crucial, with no clear alternative.

Lazzarini feels that “if the aid agency is abolished, the status of the Palestinian refugees will be resolved once and for all — and with it the right of return.”

“The problem is not the campaign. The problem is Hamas infiltrating UNRWA’s activity in the Gaza Strip,” Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Lior Haiat said.

“It’s not a suspension. It is prohibition on providing further funding,” U.S. special envoy for Middle East humanitarian issues David Satterfield said.

“We are working aggressively as possible with the U.N. family, with U.N. agencies, to see how these key functions can be sustained, as we look to the months ahead,” Satterfield said.

“Nobody else can do what UNRWA is doing,” European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said.

Israel pressured UNRWA through various means and accused it of collaborating with Hamas.

UNRWA denied the accusations and faces challenges to its legitimacy.

“The Israeli parliament, for example, has introduced a bill to ban the UNRWA headquarters from Jerusalem,” Lazzarini said. “They no longer want to exempt UNRWA from VAT (value-added tax) in the future. Israeli authorities have ordered contractors at the port in Ashdod to stop handling certain food deliveries for UNRWA. And all these demands come from the government.”

“UNRWA has lost legitimacy and can no longer function as a U.N. body,” Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said.

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