Creating new perspectives since 2009

Israel bans UNRWA chief from entering Gaza

March 19, 2024 at 9:49 am

Commissioner General of the United Nations (UN) Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) Philippe Lazzarini makes a speech as he attends the UN General Assembly in New York, United States on March 04, 2024. [Fatih Aktaş – Anadolu Agency]

Israel yesterday denied the head of the United Nations Palestinian refugee agency (UNRWA) entry into the Gaza Strip, the UN agency and Egypt said, calling it an unprecedented move at a time of massive need, Reuters reported.

Philippe Lazzarini, whose organisation has been in crisis since Israel accused 12 of its staff of taking part in Hamas’ 7 October infiltration of Israel, said he meant to go to the Gaza city of Rafah but was informed “my entry into Rafah is declined”.

Egyptian Foreign Minister, Sameh Shoukry, told Lazzarini: “You were declined by the Israeli government, refused the entry which is an unprecedented move for [a] representative at this high position.”

The Israeli Prime Minister’s Office and Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

UNRWA is by far the largest relief body in Gaza, where the depth of the humanitarian crisis was underlined yesterday when a UN backed report warned of imminent famine in the north.

“On the day new data is out on famine in #GAZA, the Israeli Authorities deny my entry to Gaza,” Lazzarini wrote on X, adding that his visit was intended to improve humanitarian operations.

“This man-made starvation under our watch is a stain on our collective humanity,” he added.

Gaza in state of ‘man-made famine’ by Israel: EU foreign policy chief