UN suspends relief efforts in Gaza after Israel attacks convoy

8 January 2009

From Maan News Agency

The UN’s relief agency for Palestinian refugees has decided to suspend its operations in Gaza citing Israeli attacks on its personnel and facilities.

Adana Abu Hasna, the spokesperson for UNRWA said in a statement: ”We decided to stop all operations because the situation has become very dangerous and Israel has committed brutalities in the Gaza Strip.”

A truck driver was killed and another employee was injured when Israeli troops fired on a UNRWA convoy coming from the Kerem Shalom border crossing on Thursday, despite prior coordination with Israel.

For a second straight day Israel had said it would suspend military action for a three hour window to allow the delivery of aid.

Also, according to Abu Hasna, Israeli forces fired on the armored car of Judy Clark, the assistant to the UNRWA director in Gaza. No one was injured.

Aid operations will stop “until we can get safety and security guarantees for our staff,” said another spokesperson, Chris Gunness.

The Kerem Shalom crossing, the main crossing for commercial and humanitarian goods, is now closed because UNRWA workers are refusing to work in protest of the death of their colleague.

On Tuesday, Israeli artillery shells exploded on the perimeter of a UN school compound in Jabaliya, in the northern Gaza Strip, killing 45. Other UNRWA schools and health clinics have also come under attack.

The agency is responsible for providing food to more than 750,000 Gazans. More than 14,000 people have taken refuge in UNRWA schools since the current war began.