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UN Agency Shuts Jerusalem Office After Attack By Israeli Settlers

UN Agency Shuts Jerusalem Office

The main United Nations aid agency for Palestinians, UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East), temporarily shut down its headquarters in East Jerusalem after a fire was set by local Israeli residents near the compound, according to the agency.

Philippe Lazzarini, UNRWA Commissioner-General, shared on the social media platform X that the agency closed the compound following Thursday’s incident, the second in a week.

He expressed his dismay, emphasising that the lives of UN staff were at significant risk due to this “outrageous development.” He reiterated that Israel, as an occupying power, is responsible for protecting UN personnel and facilities.

The Israeli police launched an investigation into the fire, which occurred adjacent to the UNRWA compound. Preliminary findings revealed that minors below the age of criminal liability committed the act.

Despite delays in emergency response, UNRWA staff managed to extinguish the blaze, preventing casualties, although outdoor areas were damaged.

Lazzarini further highlighted ongoing security concerns, noting regular protests outside the compound, where stones have been thrown at staff and buildings.

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He shared video footage that showed smoke rising near the compound’s edge as protesters, accompanied by armed men, chanted, “Burn down the United Nations.”

Israeli officials have repeatedly called for the agency’s closure, alleging complicity with Hamas, a claim the United Nations strongly refutes. Israel views all of Jerusalem, including the eastern parts captured in the 1967 war, as its indivisible capital.

However, Palestinians envision East Jerusalem as the future capital of an independent state.

UNRWA was established to assist Palestinian refugees displaced or forced from their homes during the 1948 war around the time of Israel’s creation. The agency continues to face challenges while providing critical support and services to millions of refugees.

The ongoing war in Gaza has inflamed sentiments all around, and agencies like the UNRWA are under fire from people in Israeli who allege that they are helping terrorists.

With Inputs From Reuters