HomeForeignIsraeli Leader Accuses And Tells UN Agency To Leave Palestine

Israeli Leader Accuses And Tells UN Agency To Leave Palestine

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called for the closure of the U.N. Palestinian refugee agency (UNRWA) as his forces conducted more air strikes in Gaza amid diplomatic efforts for a ceasefire and release of hostages in the enclave.

Israel has accused some UNRWA staff of involvement in the October 7 Hamas assault in southern Israel that triggered the war in Gaza.

Donors including the United States have halted funding pending an investigation, but aid agencies say ending UNRWA operations would wreck humanitarian efforts in devastated Gaza.

The Palestinians have accused Israel of falsifying information to tarnish UNRWA, which was set up to help refugees of the war at Israel’s founding in 1948 and to which more than half Gaza’s population look to for day-to-day assistance.

“It’s time the international community and the U.N. itself understand that UNRWA’s mission has to end,” Netanyahu told visiting U.N. delegates, according to his office.

He said UNRWA should be replaced by other aid agencies “if we are going to solve the problem of Gaza as we intend to do”.

Earlier, U.N. 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”.

In Gaza, witnesses said Israel had stepped up air strikes on Gaza City, in the north, and bombarded parts of Khan Younis, in the south, despite what appeared to be the most serious peace initiative for months in the Israel-Hamas war.

Hamas, the militant Palestinian group that runs Gaza, is currently studying the proposal, which envisages the release of all remaining hostages seized on October 7.

Israel says they number around 136.

Hamas has demanded an end to Israel’s offensive.

World powers hope to prevent a wider conflict, but tensions in the Middle East remain high after Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi rebels said they would keep attacking U.S. and British warships in the Red Sea in solidarity with Palestinians.

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 Oct. 7, killing 1,200 and taking 253 hostages.

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.

REUTERS

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