UNRWA: Israel Arrested, Tortured Our Employees

The UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini during a joint press conference with Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi in Amman (EPA)
The UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini during a joint press conference with Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi in Amman (EPA)
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UNRWA: Israel Arrested, Tortured Our Employees

The UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini during a joint press conference with Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi in Amman (EPA)
The UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini during a joint press conference with Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi in Amman (EPA)

The UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) Commissioner-General, Philippe Lazzarini, said on Sunday that aid is hardly arriving to the Gaza Strip, noting that the agency's employees have been arrested and tortured by Israel, and forced to confess to crimes they did not commit.

In a joint news conference with Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi in Amman, Lazzarini said that despite the international community's calls, Israel invaded and attacked the southernmost Gaza city of Rafah on May 6, with half of Gaza's population forced to flee.

He pointed out that the two main crossings in the south, Rafah Crossing and Kerem Shalom Crossing, have turned into conflict zones, and there are currently no crossings to transport aid across the borders.

Lazzarini noted that “198 UNRWA employees were killed, 160 sites were completely or partially destroyed, and employees were arrested, tortured, and forced to confess to crimes they did not commit.”

In January, Israel alleged that 12 UNRWA employees had participated in the October 7 Hamas attacks against Israel.

Later in April, an independent review for the United Nations said Israel failed to support its claims.

Safadi said UNRWA continues to play its role in the Gaza Strip despite all the pressures, affirming that Jordan is committed to supporting the UN Agency.

“The UNRWA role is indispensable and cannot be replaced by any other party because no other party has the ability, knowledge or capabilities that this agency possesses to help the Palestinian people who are facing an unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe,” he said.

The Minister added that “the situation in Gaza is still catastrophic and is still worsening at all levels, even if enough food is brought into Gaza, which is not the case.”

Safadi noted that accusations levelled at 12 out of 13,000 UNRWA staff were refuted, “and the attempt to assassinate UNRWA politically failed.”

He said, “The report issued by the independent committee headed by former French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna confirmed that the agency has all the tools to ensure that what it does is in line with all principles of conduct, ethics and UN charters and regulations.”

Despite all the pressures, the Jordanian Minister affirmed that UNRWA is doing everything it can “to provide aid to 2.3 million Palestinians who are now suffering from this brutal war and its inhumane consequences of killing, destruction and the absence of food, medicine, treatment and education.”

But the Agency is still facing major financial challenges, according to Safadi, who said 16 countries stopped funding UNRWA after the Israeli accusations first surfaced.

He noted that 14 of them reversed their decision and announced the resumption of support for the UN agency.

Safadi also said the kingdom demanded an international investigation into what it said were many war crimes committed during Israel's military campaign in Gaza.

He added that those responsible for documented crimes should be brought to justice.



More than a 100 Killed in Gaza in 24 Hours

Smoke from Israeli bombardment billows in the background near an area previously housing displaced Palestinians leaving Rafah towards Khan Younis on June 20, 2024, in the southern Gaza Strip, amid the ongoing conflict in the Palestinian territory between Israel and Hamas. (AFP)
Smoke from Israeli bombardment billows in the background near an area previously housing displaced Palestinians leaving Rafah towards Khan Younis on June 20, 2024, in the southern Gaza Strip, amid the ongoing conflict in the Palestinian territory between Israel and Hamas. (AFP)
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More than a 100 Killed in Gaza in 24 Hours

Smoke from Israeli bombardment billows in the background near an area previously housing displaced Palestinians leaving Rafah towards Khan Younis on June 20, 2024, in the southern Gaza Strip, amid the ongoing conflict in the Palestinian territory between Israel and Hamas. (AFP)
Smoke from Israeli bombardment billows in the background near an area previously housing displaced Palestinians leaving Rafah towards Khan Younis on June 20, 2024, in the southern Gaza Strip, amid the ongoing conflict in the Palestinian territory between Israel and Hamas. (AFP)

 At least 42 people were killed in Israeli attacks on districts of Gaza City in the north of the Palestinian enclave on Saturday, the director of the Hamas-run government media office said.
One Israeli strike on houses in Al-Shati, one of the Gaza Strip's eight historic refugee camps, killed 24 people, Ismail Al-Thawabta told Reuters. Another 18 Palestinians were killed in a strike on houses in the Al-Tuffah neighborhood.

The offensive has left Gaza in ruins, killed more than 37,400 people, of whom 101 were killed in the past 24 hours, according to Palestinian health authorities, and left nearly the entire population homeless and destitute.

The Israeli military released a brief statement saying: "A short while ago, army fighter jets struck two Hamas military infrastructure sites in the area of Gaza City."
It said more details would be released soon.
Hamas did not comment on the Israeli claim to have hit its military infrastructure. It said in a statement the attacks targeted the civilian population and vowed in a statement "the occupation and its Nazi leaders will pay the price for their violations against our people."
Footage obtained by Reuters showed dozens of Palestinians rushing out to search for victims amid the destroyed houses. The footage showed wrecked homes, blasted walls, and debris and dust filling the street in Shati refugee camp.

More than eight months into the war, Israel's advance is now focused on the two last areas its forces had yet to seize: Rafah on Gaza's southern edge and the area surrounding Deir al-Balah in the centre.
Residents said Israeli tanks deepened their incursion into western and northern Rafah areas in recent days. On Saturday Israeli forces bombed several areas from air and the ground, forcing many families living in areas described as humanitarian-designated zones to leave northwards.
The Israeli military said forces continued "precise, intelligence-based" targeted operations in Rafah, killing many Palestinian gunmen and dismantling military infrastructure.
On Friday, the Gaza health ministry said at least 25 Palestinians were killed in Mawasi in western Rafah and 50 wounded. Palestinians said a tank shell hit a tent housing displaced families.