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UN chief calls on nations to renew funding Gaza assist company after allegations of militant ties

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RAFAH, Gaza Strip — The secretary-general of the United Nations on Sunday known as on nations to proceed funding the principle company offering assist in Gaza after a number of of its staff have been accused of participating within the Hamas assault on Israel that ignited the warfare 4 months in the past.

The dispute engulfing the most important supplier of important assist to Palestinians got here as U.S. officers mentioned negotiators have been closing in on a cease-fire settlement. The rising deal would convey a two-month halt to the deadliest-ever Israeli-Palestinian violence, which has stoked instability throughout the Center East.

Antonio Guterres warned that the U.N. company for Palestinian refugees, often known as UNRWA, could be compelled to reduce assist to greater than 2 million Palestinians as quickly as February. The coastal enclave is within the grip of a extreme humanitarian disaster, with 1 / 4 of the inhabitants dealing with hunger.

“The abhorrent alleged acts of those employees members should have penalties,” Guterres mentioned in an announcement.

“However the tens of hundreds of women and men who work for UNRWA, many in among the most harmful conditions for humanitarian staff, shouldn’t be penalized. The dire wants of the determined populations they serve have to be met,” he added.

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He mentioned that of the 12 staff accused of participating within the assault, 9 had been instantly terminated, one was confirmed {dead} and “the identification of the 2 others is being clarified.” He mentioned all could be held accountable, together with by felony prosecution.

UNRWA has 13,000 staffers in Gaza, practically all of them Palestinians. It gives fundamental providers, from medical care to training, for Palestinians households who fled or have been pushed out of what’s now Israel in the course of the 1948 warfare surrounding its creation — a majority of Gaza’s inhabitants. It has expanded operations in the course of the warfare, working shelters housing a whole lot of hundreds of newly displaced folks.

Greater than 2 million of the territory’s 2.3 million folks depend upon it for “sheer survival,” together with meals and shelter, UNRWA director Philippe Lazzarini mentioned, warning this lifeline can “collapse any time now.”

The USA, which is the biggest donor to the company, instantly suspended funding over the weekend, adopted by a number of different nations, together with Britain, Germany and Italy.

The Israel-Hamas warfare has killed greater than 26,000 Palestinians, based on native well being officers, destroyed huge swaths of Gaza and displaced practically 85% of the territory’s folks. The Hamas assault in southern Israel killed about 1,200 folks, largely civilians, and about 250 hostages have been taken.

Two senior Biden administration officers mentioned U.S. negotiators have been making progress on a possible settlement beneath which Israel would pause army operations in opposition to Hamas for 2 months in change for the discharge of greater than 100 hostages.

The officers, who requested anonymity to debate the delicate negotiations, mentioned that rising phrases of the yet-to-be sealed deal would play out over two phases, with the remaining girls, aged and wounded hostages to be launched by Hamas in a primary 30-day section. The rising deal additionally requires Israel to permit extra humanitarian assist into Gaza.

Greater than 100 hostages, primarily girls and kids, have been launched in November in change for a weeklong cease-fire and the discharge of 240 Palestinians imprisoned by Israel.

CIA Director Invoice Burns is predicted to debate the contours of the rising settlement when he meets Sunday in France with David Barnea, the top of Israel’s Mossad intelligence company, Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, and Egyptian intelligence chief Abbas Kamel for talks centered on the hostage negotiations.

Regardless of the obvious progress, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated in a televised information convention late Saturday that the warfare would proceed till “full victory,” together with crushing Hamas.

The dispute over UNRWA got here because the Worldwide Courtroom of Justice dominated Friday that Israel should do its utmost to restrict dying and destruction in its Gaza offensive.

The highest United Nations court docket has requested Israel for a compliance report in a month, inserting added scrutiny on Israel’s army. The court docket’s binding ruling stopped in need of ordering a cease-fire, however its orders have been partly a rebuke of Israel’s conduct in its practically 4-month warfare in opposition to Gaza’s Hamas rulers.

The case introduced by South Africa to the U.N. court docket alleged Israel is committing genocide, which Israel vehemently denies. A last ruling is predicted to take years.

The court docket additionally ordered Israel to urgently get assist to Gaza. The quantity of assist getting into the territory stays effectively under the day by day common of 500 vans earlier than the warfare, and U.N. companies say distribution inside Gaza has been severely hampered by the preventing and delays at Israeli checkpoints.

Israel holds Hamas answerable for civilian casualties, saying the militants embed themselves within the native inhabitants. Israel says its air and floor offensive in Gaza has killed greater than 9,000 militants.

The offensive brought on huge destruction in northern Gaza, the place Israel says it has largely dismantled Hamas. The preventing is now targeted on the southern metropolis of Khan Younis and a cluster of built-up refugee camps in central Gaza relationship again to 1948.

The World Well being Group and the medical charity MSF have issued pressing warnings concerning the largest well being facility in Khan Younis, Nasser Hospital, saying remaining employees may barely operate with provides working out and intense preventing close by.

WHO footage confirmed folks within the crowded facility being handled on blood-smeared flooring as frantic family members shouted and jostled. Cats scavenged on a mound of medical waste.

The USA, Israel’s closest ally, has more and more known as for restraint and for extra humanitarian assist to be allowed into Gaza whereas supporting the offensive.


Shurafa reported from Deir al-Balah, Gaza Strip. Aamer Madhani, Matthew Lee and Zeke Miller in Washington contributed to this report.


Observe AP’s protection of the Israel-Hamas warfare at https://apnews.com/hub/israel-hamas-war

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