Greater Middle East (bbabo.net), - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered the process of winding down the activities of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in the Gaza Strip. Speaking at a press conference, the head of government said that he informed US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who arrived on a visit to Israel, about this.
“Today I told Secretary Blinken that once we destroy [the radical Palestinian movement] Hamas, we will ensure that the Gaza Strip is demilitarized forever. History has already proven that there is only one force that can guarantee this - the State of Israel with the help of the Israel Defense Forces and security forces. Terror no longer rears its head. Civil governance of the Gaza Strip cannot be carried out by those who support terrorism, finance terrorism and raise their children in the spirit of terrorism. This means that we will also have to replace UNRWA. I have directed that this process begin and today I informed Secretary of State Blinken of this,” Netanyahu said.
Earlier, several countries, including the US, UK, Germany and Canada, announced the suspension of funding to UNRWA amid suspicions of ties to Hamas. In connection with these suspicions, the Israeli authorities demanded that the agency's activities in the Gaza Strip be curtailed.
UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini has ordered the dismissal of several agency employees allegedly involved in the Hamas attack on Israel on October 7 last year. Without renewed funding, UNRWA's functioning could be in jeopardy by the end of February, the UN said.
The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East was established in 1949. Its tasks include providing medical, social, food assistance and education to 5.9 million refugees in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria. UNRWA is funded by voluntary contributions from UN member states, as well as EU countries and international non-governmental organizations.