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UN says Israel will not renew visa for top aid official

December 1, 2023 at 7:55 pm

Stephane Dujarric, spokesperson for UN Secretary-General at UN Headquarters, United States on 12 September, 2023 [Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images]

Israel has told the United Nations it will not renew a visa for the top UN humanitarian aid official for the Palestinian Gaza Strip and West Bank, a UN spokesperson said on Friday, Reuters reports.

Canadian-born Lynn Hastings, a veteran UN official, has served as the deputy Special Coordinator for the Middle East peace process and UN Humanitarian Coordinator for the Occupied Palestinian Territory for nearly three years.

We’ve been informed by the Israeli authorities that they would not renew the visa of Ms Hastings past the due date at some point later this month

UN spokesperson, Stephane Dujarric, told reporters.

He said UN staff does not overstay their visas in any country, but stressed that UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, has full confidence in Hastings. Dujarric did not say whether Hastings would be replaced.

A spokesperson for Israel’s Foreign Ministry accused the United Nations of being biased and described as “disgraceful” the UN response to a 7 October attack by Hamas militants that Israel says killed 1,200 people.

“That’s why Israel decided to check on – one by one – the visas that are issued to representatives of the UN,” the spokesperson said.

At the end of October, Israel’s Foreign Ministry accused Hastings – in a social media post – of failing to be impartial and objective, which the United Nations rejected.

You’ve seen some very public attacks on Twitter against her which were utterly unacceptable.  Personal direct attacks on UN personnel, anywhere around the world, are unacceptable and put people’s lives at risks

Dujarric sad.

Guterres, on Wednesday, warned the UN Security Council that the Gaza Strip, ruled by Hamas, was in the midst of an “epic humanitarian catastrophe’.

Since the 7 October attack, Israel has focused its retaliation against Hamas in Gaza, bombarding it from the air, imposing a siege and launching a ground assault.

More than 15,000 people are confirmed killed, some 40 per cent of them under the age of 18, according to Palestinian health authorities deemed reliable by the United Nations. Many others are feared buried under the ruins.

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