News / Middle East

UN Urges Respect of its Gaza Facilities

Valerie Amos, United Nations Under-Secretary- General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator (seen on screen) briefs a U.N. Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East, at U.N. headquarters in New York, July 31, 2014.
Valerie Amos, United Nations Under-Secretary- General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator (seen on screen) briefs a U.N. Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East, at U.N. headquarters in New York, July 31, 2014.
Margaret Besheer

The head of the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees called on Israel and Hamas militants to respect the inviolability of U.N. premises Thursday, a day after Israeli fire killed 19 civilians sheltering at a U.N. school in the Gaza Strip.  

UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl spoke to the U.N. Security Council from Gaza. He strongly condemned the shelling of the school in Jabalya, which housed 3,300 displaced Palestinians who he said had been warned by the Israeli military to flee their homes.

"Speaking to many inhabitants of Gaza yesterday and today I have heard the same messages time and time again.  'If we are not safe in an UNRWA school, we are not safe anywhere in Gaza,' they say.  They add, 'the world has failed us, has failed to protect,'" said Krähenbühl.

Under international law, U.N. operations, personnel and premises are inviolable.

Krähenbühl said UNRWA is sheltering more than 220,000 displaced Palestinians at 85 U.N. schools, which are not equipped to handle such large groups for extended periods of time.  He said families are crowded - 80 persons to each classroom - and the threat of disease is looming.

  • Hajar Muharram, 5, sits in a classroom where the family of seven now live, at a U.N. school, in Beit Lahiya, northern Gaza Strip, Thursday, July 31, 2014.
  • Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (C) and Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon (L) attend a cabinet meeting in Tel Aviv July 31, 2014.
  • A woman carries a bag of food supplies that she received from a United Nations food distribution center in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip July 31, 2014.
  • People pray next to the bodies of Palestinians from the al-Silk family during their funeral in Gaza City July 31, 2014.
  • Heygar Jendiyah, left, points to where the family house kitchen once stood, partially destroyed by a previous air strike, as her children Ranin, 10, center, and Helmi, right, listen, in the Sabra neighborhood of Gaza City, northern Gaza Strip,
  • An Israeli soldier stands atop an armored vehicle at a staging area near the border with the Gaza Strip July 31, 2014.
  • Israeli soldiers carry cases at a staging area near the border with the Gaza Strip July 31, 2014
  • Israeli tanks at a staging area near the border with the Gaza Strip July 31, 2014.

He expressed concern about reports that the Israel Defense Forces have told residents of the Zaytun area of Gaza City and the southern town of Khan Yunis to evacuate their homes.  He said UNRWA does not have the capacity to absorb and provide for more displaced persons.

"Should further large-scale displacement indeed occur, the occupying power, according to international humanitarian law, will have to assume direct responsibility to assist these people," he said.

U.N. humanitarian chief Valerie Amos told the council that until a long-term cease-fire is in place, reliable, daily humanitarian pauses are necessary so aid can be distributed, the injured rescued and the dead recovered.

Israel's U.N. ambassador, Ron Prosor, said Israel is still investigating what happened at the Jabalya school and added that no Israeli soldier intentionally targets civilians.  He disputed U.N. figures that 80 percent of the Palestinian casualties in Gaza have been civilians, saying Israel believes nearly half have been militants.

Palestinian envoy Riyad Mansour called for justice and accountability for the more than 1,300 dead and urged a lifting of the economic blockade on Gaza.

Mansour said, "Because when you put 1.8 million Palestinian civilians in this huge prison, denying them food because they cannot fish in the sea, denying them electricity, denying them safe places, denying them adequate medical facilities, denying them clean water - what are you doing?  Isn't that genocide?"

He said despite the bloodshed, the Palestinian people still want a political resolution to the conflict and a two-state solution so they can live in freedom and dignity.

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Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: eusebio manuel vestias from: Portugal
August 02, 2014 5:17 AM
Diplomacy internacional community for peace in Palestine and Israel

by: Haji Abass from: Nairobi
August 01, 2014 9:47 AM
United nation is aproject of zaionist.they are directly responsible of this massacer so lethem not fool us.

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