Palestinian refugees in West Bank fear UNRWA closure By Reuters


© Reuters. A Palestinian holds a child in a UNRWA university hospital in the Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, February 5, 2024. REUTERS/Mussa Qawasma


By Yosri Al Jamal

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – In refugee camps in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, Palestinians counting on the U.N. company UNRWA for education and health care fear essential services will stop as donors have actually stopped briefly financing over allegations team member participated in Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack.

The majority of the concentrate on the fate of the United Nations Relief and Functions Firm for Palestinian refugees has actually been on its emergency situation operations in war-devastated Gaza where it is important to a help effort for the enclave’s 2.3 million occupants.

However the company is likewise a lifeline for Palestinian refugees throughout the Middle East, consisting of in the West Bank where it serves more than 870,000 individuals, running 96 schools and 43 main health care centers.

” If they cut off help from UNRWA, there will be no assistance of any kind for homeowners, particularly in refugee camps since they depend on UNRWA,” stated Mohammad al-Masri, a homeowner of Dheisheh refugee camp near Bethlehem.

UNRWA revealed last month that it had actually dismissed personnel after Israel provided it with claims that 12 of its 13,000 staff members in Gaza had actually participated in the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas fighters who stormed border fences and assaulted Israeli towns.

The Islamist militant group eliminated around 1,200 individuals, primarily civilians, and dragged more than 250 back into Gaza as captives, according to Israeli tallies. Israel’s aerial and ground war in the Hamas-run enclave has actually eliminated more than 28,000 individuals there, health authorities there state.

Allegations versus UNRWA have actually reignited longstanding Israeli needs to take apart a company which both sides view as carefully connected to a refugee issue dating to Israel’s production in 1948 that lies at the heart of their decades-long dispute.

Some 700,000 Palestinians, half the Arab population of what 75 years back was British-ruled Palestine, left or were expelled, numerous spilling into neighbouring Arab nations where they their descendants stay. The camping tent camps they resided in after 1948 developed into built-up municipalities.

Without any long lasting settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute on the horizon, they maintain the status of refugees, consisting of in the West Bank and Gaza, and assert a right to go back to their homes within Israel’s borders.

Israel has actually constantly declined that, stating they picked to leave and have no right to return. Last month Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu restored needs for UNRWA to be closed down, stating “it looks for to maintain the problem of Palestinian refugees”.


Daoud Faraj was ten years old when his household ended up being refugees. Now 85, he has actually lived the majority of his life in the West Bank’s Aida refugee camp near Jerusalem.

” Cutting off help will harm many individuals. Not just me,” he stated, describing the health services and schools that UNRWA handles in the camp.

The company has stated it hopes donors will evaluate their financing choices in a couple of weeks after an initial report into Israeli allegations and UNRWA’s handling of them.

It has stated that it might lack funds to run services by the end of February if financing is not brought back.

” It is possible for UNRWA to be pushed into the worst situation, which is a problem for us, and it is to stop our operations. Not just in Gaza, (however) in other places where we run,” stated company representative Kazem Abu Khalaf.

Outdoors UNRWA’s West Bank operations center in Jerusalem, the city’s deputy mayor Aryeh King spoke at a demonstration by Israelis requiring that the company be shuttered.

” It is time that the federal government of Israel chooses to handle this organisation like an opponent,” King stated as demonstrators held up placards checking out “Expel UNRWA”.


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