In its ongoing campaign to stifle the work of the United Nations and human rights groups, Israeli Occupation Forces has denied another UN staff entry to the Israeli Occupied Palestinian Territories.
Israel withheld entry visas for newly appointed personnel of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in the Occupied Territories, Palestinian news agency, Wafa reported. With the latest obstruction, this brings the number of OCHA staff documenting Israeli human rights violations who have been denied entry to 20.
UN spokesperson, Stephane, expressed concerns that this would have significant long-term ramifications on OCHA's ability and that of the broader humanitarian community to support Palestinians in need. "The impact of this on OCHA's work in planning the humanitarian response for 2023 is already being felt," Stephane is reported saying.
The obstruction of UN staff is part of a wider pattern of behaviour to stifle the work of human rights groups. In recent years this has expanded to Palestinian NGO's which the Apartheid State has proscribed as terrorist groups.
As a member State of the UN, Israel is obliged to cooperate with the world body. At the very least, it is required to grant UN officials the privileges and immunities necessary for them to independently exercise their functions. This includes an obligation to exempt UN officials from immigration restrictions and to deal with applications for visas for UN officials as speedily as possible.
In August, the then UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, slammed Israel over its refusal to cooperate with the UN. Bachelet revealed that, in 2020, 15 international staff at the UN office in Palestine, which has been operating in the country for 26 years, had no choice but to leave. She added that subsequent requests for visas and visa renewals have gone unanswered for two years.
"Israel's treatment of our staff is part of a wider and worrying trend to block human rights access to the Occupied Palestinian Territory," Bachelet said, at the time. "This raises the question of what exactly the Israeli authorities are trying to hide."