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Hamas denounces Knesset approval of bill to ban UN agency in Jerusalem

February 15, 2024 at 8:31 pm

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) office building sign at Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in Jerusalem on January 30, 2024 [Saeed Qaq/Anadolu Agency]

Hamas on Thursday condemned the voting on a bill in a preliminary reading in the Knesset, or Israel’s parliament, to ban the work of the UN Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) in occupied East Jerusalem and Israel, Anadolu Agency reports.

The Palestinian group said the move is to “terminate the work of the agency which represents an international witness on the suffering of our people, on their forcible expulsion from their homes and on their right to return to them.”

“We reject this occupation decision which contradicts the related international resolutions,” said Hamas.

It urged the international community and the UN “to take all necessary steps and measures to ensure the continuity of the agency’s work.”

READ: Israel: parliament approves bill in preliminary reading to ban UNRWA operations

The Knesset passed a bill Wednesday in its preliminary reading to ban UNRWA in Israel and the occupied West Bank. The bill, however, needs to pass three more readings before becoming law.

It prohibits UNRWA from operating within Israeli territory and instructs police to take action to enforce the prohibition.

Israel accuses 12 UNRWA staffers of being involved in the Oct. 7 Hamas attack, which Tel Aviv said killed less than 1,200 people.

Several countries, including the US, UK, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, and Canada, have suspended funding to the UN agency following the Israeli accusations.

The agency has said that it is investigating the allegations.

READ: EU condemns Israel’s demolition of community leader’s home in East Jerusalem