UN Observes Minute’s Silence for 101 Staff Killed in Gaza 

Protesters take part in a rally in support of Palestinians, in front of the United Nations European headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, 11 November 2023. (EPA)
Protesters take part in a rally in support of Palestinians, in front of the United Nations European headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, 11 November 2023. (EPA)
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UN Observes Minute’s Silence for 101 Staff Killed in Gaza 

Protesters take part in a rally in support of Palestinians, in front of the United Nations European headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, 11 November 2023. (EPA)
Protesters take part in a rally in support of Palestinians, in front of the United Nations European headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, 11 November 2023. (EPA)

United Nations workers observed a minute's silence on Monday to honor the more than 100 employees killed in Gaza since the Israel-Hamas war began last month as UN flags flew at half-mast.

Staff at UN offices in Geneva bowed their heads as a candle was lit in memory of the 101 employees of UN Palestinian refugee agency (UNRWA) killed in the Israeli assault on Gaza.

"This is the highest number of aid workers killed in the history of our organization in such a short time," said Tatiana Valovaya, Director-General of the United Nations in Geneva.

"We are gathered here today, united in this very symbolic location, to pay respect to our brave colleagues who sacrificed their lives while serving under the United Nations flag."

UNRWA has said that some staff members were killed while queuing for bread while others were killed along with their families in their homes in Israel's aerial and ground war against Hamas in response to the Oct. 7 cross-border assault by the group.

Israel blames Hamas for civilian deaths in the densely populated enclave, saying the group uses the population as human shields. Hamas denies the charge.

"I would like to say that we are really facing very challenging times for multilateralism, for the world," Valovaya said. "But the United Nations is more relevant than ever."

Established in 1949 following the first Arab-Israeli war, UNRWA provides public services including schools, healthcare and aid. Many of UNRWA's 5,000 staff working in Gaza are Palestinian refugees themselves.



Putin Warns West Not to Let Ukraine Use Its Missiles to Hit Russia

 Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulates Russian Border Guards troop celebrations their service holiday in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, May 28, 2024. (Alexander Kazakov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)
Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulates Russian Border Guards troop celebrations their service holiday in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, May 28, 2024. (Alexander Kazakov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)
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Putin Warns West Not to Let Ukraine Use Its Missiles to Hit Russia

 Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulates Russian Border Guards troop celebrations their service holiday in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, May 28, 2024. (Alexander Kazakov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)
Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulates Russian Border Guards troop celebrations their service holiday in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, May 28, 2024. (Alexander Kazakov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin warned the West on Tuesday that NATO members in Europe were playing with fire by proposing to let Ukraine use Western weapons to strike inside Russia, which he said could trigger a global conflict.

More than two years into the deadliest land war in Europe since World War Two, as the West considers what to do about Russian military advances, Putin is increasingly evoking the risk of a global war, while Western leaders play it down.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told the Economist that alliance members should let Ukraine strike deep into Russia with Western weapons, a view supported by some European members of the transatlantic alliance but not the United States.

Russian forces have advanced into Ukraine's Kharkiv province safe in the knowledge that Ukraine cannot attack missile launchers being fired deep inside Russia because it cannot use the Western missiles that have the required range.

Meanwhile, Western-made air defenses cannot attempt to down Russian rockets until they cross the Ukrainian border, only 25 km (15 miles) or so from Ukraine's second city, Kharkiv.

"Constant escalation can lead to serious consequences," Putin told reporters in Tashkent in Uzbekistan.

"If these serious consequences occur in Europe, how will the United States behave, bearing in mind our parity in the field of strategic weapons?"

"It's hard to say - do they want a global conflict?"

Putin said Ukrainian strikes with long-range weapons would need Western satellite, intelligence and military help - so the West would have to be directly involved in such attacks.

He said sending French troops to Ukraine would also be a step towards global conflict and that smaller countries considering deeper involvement "should be aware of what they are playing with" as they had small land areas and dense populations.

"This is a factor that they should keep in mind before talking about striking deep into Russian territory. This is a serious thing, and we are of course watching it very closely," Putin said.

RUSSIAN ADVANCES TRIGGER DEBATE IN WEST

Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022 touched off the worst breakdown in relations with the West for 60 years.

The invasion has caused the deaths of tens of thousands of Ukrainian civilians, driven millions to flee abroad, and reduced neighborhoods and whole cities to rubble.

Putin casts the war as part of a struggle with the West, which he says is exploiting Ukraine as part of a wider plan to encroach on what he considers Moscow's sphere of influence.

The West and Ukraine cast the attack as a simple land grab: Russia controls 18% of Ukraine, and the crisis is now escalating into what diplomats say is its most dangerous phase.

Russian officials say Moscow's patience is wearing thin after Ukrainian attacks on Russian cities, oil refineries and elements of its nuclear early-warning system.

Putin said Kyiv and its Western backers had provoked Russia's offensive on the Kharkiv region by ignoring repeated warnings not to let Ukraine attack the adjacent Russian region of Belgorod.