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War in the Middle East: Israel calls for UNRWA chief to resign

War in the Middle East: Israel calls for UNRWA chief to resign

Israel accuses the UN Palestinian Relief Agency of cooperating with Hamas in Gaza. Now the discovery of a tunnel provides new explosive material. The overview.

Israel has made new serious allegations against the UN Palestinian relief agency UNRWA in the Gaza Strip. The Israeli military said that a tunnel was discovered under its headquarters in the city of Gaza, which served the Islamist Hamas as a data center for the militia’s military intelligence service. UNRWA chief Philippe Lazzarini explained that the building had already been evacuated in the early stages of the war and that there was no knowledge of a tunnel underneath. Israel’s Foreign Minister Israel Katz rejected this as “absurd” and called for the UNRWA chief to be replaced. “His immediate resignation is essential,” Katz wrote on the platform X (formerly Twitter). Meanwhile, relatives of the Israeli hostages in Gaza want to sue the Hamas leaders at the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

Israel’s military: Large quantities of weapons in UNRWA headquarters

The Israeli military also announced that large quantities of weapons and explosives had been found in the abandoned headquarters of the UN Palestinian Relief Agency in the past two weeks. In addition, evidence suggests that offices and premises at UNRWA headquarters were used by Hamas terrorists, it said. There was no information as to when exactly this use took place, whether before or after the start of the war. The information could not initially be independently verified.

UNRWA chief Lazzarini wrote on Whenever a suspicious cavity was found near or under the UNRWA site in the past, letters of protest were immediately sent to the parties to the conflict, Lazzarini wrote – including both Hamas and the Israeli authorities. It was said that Israeli authorities had not officially informed UNRWA about the alleged tunnel.

The UN aid agency has recently come under heavy criticism. There have been repeated accusations from Israel that it is working with Hamas. Specifically, some employees were accused of being involved in the unprecedented Hamas massacre on October 7th in southern Israel. Several Western countries temporarily suspended payments to UNRWA because of the allegations, including the two largest donors, the United States and Germany. UN Secretary General António Guterres promised comprehensive information. The collaboration with several employees has been terminated.

Relatives are pushing for the release of the Gaza hostages

Meanwhile, according to Israeli media reports, a delegation from the Forum of Families of Hostages still held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip will travel to the headquarters of the International Criminal Court in The Hague on Wednesday. The relatives wanted to obtain arrest warrants against the Islamists by filing an official complaint against the militia leaders. In this way, the pressure should be increased to obtain the release of the hostages, it was said. Terrorists from Hamas and other extremist groups killed 1,200 people in Israel and abducted another 250 to the Gaza Strip in the attack on October 7th. Since then, Israel’s military has launched massive air strikes and a ground offensive against Hamas and its allies in the coastal area.

During a ceasefire last November, 105 hostages were released in exchange for 240 Palestinian prisoners. There are currently 136 people in the hands of Hamas, but according to Israeli estimates, at least 30 of them are no longer alive. Diplomatic efforts by Egypt, Qatar and the US are aimed at bringing about a longer ceasefire in the Gaza war. As part of this, the hostages are to be exchanged for Palestinian prisoners in Israel in several phases. However, the negotiations are currently making slow progress.

Protests against Israel’s government again

In Israel, several thousand people demonstrated again for the release of the hostages. Relatives accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of torpedoing ongoing negotiations with Hamas. Meanwhile, Netanyahu continues the war against Hamas. He has given the army the order to prepare an offensive on Rafah in the southernmost part of the coastal area. Rafah, near the border with Egypt, is the only place in Gaza where Hamas still exercises control. A military offensive there is considered highly problematic because more than a million Palestinians have fled the fighting to Rafah and are seeking protection there in a very small space.

Eyewitnesses report airstrikes in Rafah

Israel’s military is said to be planning the evacuation of civilians on Netanyahu’s instructions. Rafah’s mayor warned that a military operation in the city would lead to a massacre. There are currently no Israeli ground troops deployed in the city. However, according to eyewitnesses, targets in the city have already been attacked from the air. More than 20 people are said to have been killed in attacks. They were the most intense attacks to date. The mayor confirmed the number of victims to the dpa. Israeli soldiers also bombed a Hamas vehicle, killing three people, including the head of Hamas’ police intelligence service and his deputy, police sources and witnesses said.

Israel’s army said one of those killed was a Hamas soldier. The other two people were also members of the military wing of Hamas. The information could not initially be independently verified.

What is important today

While the fighting in the Gaza Strip continues, the humanitarian situation for civilians risks becoming significantly worse in the event of an offensive in Rafah.

Source: Stern

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