Head of Hamas’ political bureau, Ismail Haniyeh has condemned Israel’s allies for cutting funding to UNRWA.
In a statement, he noted that the decision to cut aid to besieged and displaced Palestinians at a time when they needed it most due to Israel’s war on Gaza goes against the ICJ interim ruling last week to increase humanitarian assistance significantly.
“This indicates the existence of a systematic policy by these countries to support the occupation through starvation and siege of our people instead of responding to the court’s historic decision,” Haniyeh said.
The Hamas politburo Chief added that Israel is going after the UN agency for Palestinian refugees because the ICJ ruling was largely based on damning figures and testimonies provided by UNRWA.
Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) urged countries to continue funding the UN Palestinian refugee agency (UNRWA), calling Israeli allegations against the UN body a “distraction” from the war in Gaza.
“The discussion right now is much of a distraction of what is going on every day, every hour in Gaza,” WHO Spokesperson Christian Lindmeier told a UN news briefing in Geneva.
Lindmeier said this in reference to recent allegations by Tel Aviv that some UNRWA staff were involved in the cross-border attack on Israel by Hamas on October 7, 2023.
Arguing that while these claims should be investigated, he said that they currently serve as a “distraction”, from measures preventing an entire nation’s access to food, water and electricity.
He added that they also distract from the “continuous shelling” of Palestinians in Gaza, even in designated safe areas, as well as from attacks on “shelters, schools, hospitals.”
At least 12 countries — Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Canada, Finland, Australia, UK, Netherlands, US, France, Austria, and Japan — have suspended funding for UNRWA, which was established in 1949 to help Palestinian refugees across the Middle East.
UNRWA reported that the Israeli army has attacked its premises in Gaza at least 260 times, leading to at least 360 Palestinians being killed since October 7.
A video published by the UN’s agency for Palestinian refugees showed the level of destruction at a UNRWA school-turned-shelter that has been hit by the Israeli army.
UNRWA has also lost 152 of its workers in Israeli attacks since the start of the war.
Minister Warns Of Epidemics In Gaza
Also on Tuesday, Mai al-Kaila, the Health Minister for the Palestinian Authority, warned of the rapid spread of epidemics in Gaza.
The Minister described health conditions as “catastrophic” due to severe shortages of health personnel, equipment, medicine and shelters.
“There are 36 hospitals in the Gaza Strip, 14 of which are partially operating, nine in the south and five in the north,” al-Kaila said in an interview.
“More than 1,100 medical personnel in the Gaza Strip have been killed or wounded,” she said, adding, “There are 325 shelter centres, 150 of which have one health point, and the remaining 175 centres do not.”
The Ministry of Health in Gaza disclosed that Israeli forces have intensified their blockade on the Nasser Medical Complex in Khan Younis for the second week.
In a statement, the ministry said that the electrical generators at the hospital will stop within two days due to fuel shortages.
“The Israeli occupation places 150 medical personnel, 450 wounded, and 3,000 displaced people under targeting,” the ministry said, warning that the food for medical stand, patients and the displaced has run out.
The Palestinian Environment Quality Authority also stated that the ongoing Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip not only constitutes a humanitarian catastrophe but is also destroying all components of biological diversity, including plants and microorganisms.
In a statement, the environmental body said that components of wildlife, including plant and animal diversity on land and offshore the Gaza Strip, have been subjected to the strongest forms of destruction as a result of the use of explosives and weapons.