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UNRWA probes staff suspected of role in 7 October attack on Israel

January 26, 2024 at 5:56 pm

Philippe Lazzarini, Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) holds press conference in Jerusalem on October 27, 2023 [Mostafa Alkharouf/Anadolu via Getty Images]

UNRWA has warned that a large number of Palestinians in Gaza will die as a result of the acute shortage of water in the Strip.

In a tweet the agency wrote, “Without safe water, many more people will die from deprivation and disease,” noting that the UNRWA team “has delivered nearly 20,000,000 litres of water to people in #Gaza, but it’s not enough to meet the needs.”

The agency also reported that “Conditions are inhumane. People struggle to survive without any of the basics.”

“Water is life and Gaza is out of water,” UNRWA continued.

“There is very limited access to clean water & sanitation amid relentless bombardment.”

As of 30 January, 18 countries and the EU have suspended their funding of UNRWA, based on Israeli allegations that 12 of the agency’s employees participated in the 7 October attack on Israel.

Israel has repeatedly equated UNRWA staff with Hamas members in efforts to discredit them, providing no proof of the claims, while lobbying hard to have UNRWA closed as it is the only UN agency to have a specific mandate, granted by the UN General Assembly in 1949, to look after the basic needs of Palestinian refugees. If the agency no longer exists, argues Israel, then the refugee issue must no longer exist, and the legitimate right for Palestinian refugees to return to their land will be unnecessary. Israel has denied that right of return since the late 1940s, even though its own membership of the UN was made conditional upon Palestinian refugees being allowed to return to their homes and land.

“It will be impossible to win the war if we do not destroy UNRWA, this destruction must begin immediately,” Noga Arbell, a former Israeli foreign ministry official, said in early January.

Allegations against the UNRWA officials came on the same day the ICJ ruled against Israel and called on it to ensure a genocide was not being committed in Gaza.

As of Sunday, the genocidal war on Gaza left 27,365 Palestinians killed and 66,630 injured, most of them children and women, according to the Palestinian authorities, and caused massive destruction and an unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe, according to the UN.

READ: ICJ demands Israel prevent genocide, stops short of calling for a ceasefire