UNRWA Head Urges For Support as Israel Calls For Its Closure

As Israel is demanding that a United Nations agency is dissolved, the head of that agency urged the UN Security Council to ensure its survival.

Israel has been pushing for the UN to shut down UNRWA, an agency that the country says has become part of the “terror war machine” for the terrorist group Hamas.

But, the agency’s head, Philippe Lazzarini, pleaded with the Security Council Wednesday, saying dismantling it would only deepen the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, and speed up famine in the enclave.

Famine has become a significant concern of many experts, with projections showing that as many as half of the 2.3 million people who call Gaza home could soon be on the brink of starvation as the war between Israel and Hamas continues to intensify.

Lazzarini added that ending the operations of the agency would cause other “lasting repercussions” on the people of Gaza. More than 500,000 children there would be without an education, he said, which could fuel “anger, resentment and endless cycles of violence.”

He also said it would jeopardize whatever the transition looks like once the war ends, which could deprive the citizens of Gaza from essential services such as food, health care and other types of humanitarian aid.

But, Gilad Erdan, Israel’s ambassador to the UN, said that Hamas has completely infiltrated UNRWA. He accused the agency of also being part of a plot by Palestinians to annihilate Israel and of becoming “the world’s biggest advocate for a one-state solution” that Palestianians would run.

He said:

“Today in Gaza, UNRWA is Hamas and Hamas is UNRWA. Israel cannot and will not allow UNRWA to continue in Gaza as it did in the past. The time has come to defund UNRWA.”

In addition, Erdan said the UN has other agencies that can aid Palestinians in Gaza, and there are also other aid organizations that can chip in.

The UNRWA clash started not long ago when Israel alleged that 12 of the 13,000 total workers for the agency participated in the October 7 surprise attacks in Israel that left roughly 1,200 people dead and resulted in about 250 others being taken captive.

Following the allegations, the United States and more than a dozen other allies suspended their contributions to the UN agency.

It also resulted in two separate investigations. One of those was conducted by an internal watchdog of the UN into the 12 staff members who have since been fired. The second is an independent probe that is looking into how the agency ensures that it remains neutral.

A report from that second investigation is expected to be released early next week.

For his part, Lazzarini pledged that he would implement any recommendations that come out of the report, as well as strengthen safeguards that are already in place to ensure that UNRWA remains neutral.

He further argued that Israel’s efforts to defund the organization is really “about ending the refugee status of millions of Palestinians.”