The death toll of U.N. aid workers in Gaza exceeds the death toll in any other conflict in the organization’s 78-year history, the United Nations said Monday, a stark reminder that aid workers from global agencies have not been spared from Israeli repression. Relentless bombardment From the besieged sector.
The agency said that a total of 102 relief workers from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) were killed and 27 others were injured in Gaza since the start of the Israeli war on Hamas more than a month ago.
The agency said in a statement: “During the past 24 hours, an UNRWA employee was killed along with her family in the northern Gaza Strip due to raids.” “This is the largest number of UN aid workers killed in conflict in the history of the United Nations.”
The latest war exploded after Hamas terrorist attacks on October 7, during which militants killed at least 1,200 people in Israel and took more than 200 hostage.
Israel says it is fighting to eliminate Hamas, which it says has entrenched itself in Gaza’s civilian infrastructure.
UN offices around the world lowered their flags to half-staff and UN staff observed a minute of silence on Monday to mourn and honor their colleagues killed in Gaza.
“We will never forget them,” said UN Secretary-General António Guterres, who observed a minute of silence from UN headquarters in New York.
UNRWA said that the dead were among 13,000 of its employees working in Gaza, and that many of them died alongside their families during the Israeli aggression. Bombing The siege imposed on the Palestinian territories following the attack launched by Hamas militants on October 7.
“They were teachers, school principals and health workers, including a gynecologist, engineers, support staff and a psychiatrist,” the statement said.
UN aid workers were among at least 11,180 people killed in Israeli air strikes, including 4,609 children, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry in Ramallah, which draws its figures from Hamas-controlled territory.
UNRWA is the main UN agency operating in Gaza and is sheltering some 780,000 people in more than 150 overcrowded facilities even as basic services have collapsed.
The agency was established a year after the 1948 Arab-Israeli War and provides services such as education, health care, relief, and social services.
This followed the creation of the United Nations in 1945, after the Holocaust and other horrors of World War II, with the aim of preventing such atrocities and future world wars from happening again.
Volker Türk, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said on Wednesday that Hamas and Israel had committed crimes war crimes Last month.
Gaza, with more than two million people crammed into 140 square miles (362 square kilometers), has long been one of the poorest places in the world, cut off from the outside world for the past 17 years by an Israeli and Egyptian blockade.
The current Israeli blockade and bombing have created a worsening humanitarian crisis with desperate conditions inside Gaza, including in areas close to it. Complete collapse of the health care system The widespread destruction of entire neighborhoods.
The agency said its staff were working “around the clock” with scarce supplies to support displaced people in its schools and buildings, facilitate the arrival of what little aid is in Gaza and help vulnerable Gazans including pregnant women and children.
Thomas White, Director of UNRWA Affairs in the Gaza Strip, said that the Israeli blockade on the entry of all types of fuel and most food, water and medicine into Gaza means that UNRWA’s aid operation has “suffocated its resources” and the agency will be forced to completely stop working. Stopping services including water desalination plants and waste removal due to fuel shortages.
White said that UNRWA does not have fuel to fill its trucks in Gaza and will not be able to receive aid shipments through the Rafah crossing on Tuesday.
Earlier this month, UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini said its staff in Gaza “share the same living conditions as everyone else.”
“They struggle every day to find bread, to find water, to protect their children. Despite that, and despite the huge loss within this organization, they remain committed to doing everything possible to provide support to the people in Gaza,” Lazzarini said. “But it is a daily struggle.” continuous”.
Despite the protection provided by international law, aid organizations, NGOs, journalists and first responders have also been victims of flight. The Committee to Protect Journalists said that as of Monday, at least 42 media workers had been killed since the start of the war.
The agency said that more than 60 UNRWA facilities – most of them schools housing thousands of civilians – suffered collateral or direct damage due to Israeli strikes, and since October 7, 66 people who took refuge in its facilities have been killed. On Sunday, one of its buildings in Rafah, south of the Gaza Strip, was subjected to an Israeli naval bombardment and was severely damaged.
“This latest attack is another indication that no place in Gaza is safe. Neither the north, nor the central areas, nor the south. The disregard for the protection of civilian infrastructure including UN facilities, hospitals, schools, shelters and places of worship is a testament to the level of “The horror that civilians in Gaza experience every day.”
The Israeli military said on Monday that it “carried out a strike based on operational requirements, near a UN building” on Sunday.
UNRWA said that 70% of the total damaged facilities were south of the Gaza Valley, in the central and southern regions, including Rafah and Khan Yunis. This is the area of Gaza to which the Israeli military ordered civilians in northern Gaza and Gaza City to move.
CNN’s Tim Lester, Niamh Kennedy, Tamar Michaelis and Karim El Damanhoury contributed reporting.
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