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UNRWA Chief Doubts U.S. Assurances on Safety of Civilians in Gaza

Philippe Lazzarini, commissioner general of the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), reported on CBS’ “Face the Nation” yesterday that about 70 of the UNRWA’s facilities were hit in Gaza, killing about 200 people who had taken shelter in those locations, and wounding another 100. This happened “despite the fact that we are constantly deconflicting and notifying the Israeli authorities, but also the de facto government of Hamas about our location,” he said.

“For the time being, we are in no position to determine who has been behind each of the incidents we have reported until now,” Lazzarini went on, and referred to the UNRWA’s own reports indicating military use of its facilities. “But, clearly, here, this has been a blatant disregard of international humanitarian law, a blatant disregard of the UN premises, and a blatant disregard of a civilian population.”

Lazzarini also expressed a lack of confidence in the Biden administration’s calling for assurances that civilians should be protected before the IDF resumes combat operations. “[W]e are not confident,” in those assurances, he said, “because there haven’t been any safe places until now in the Gaza Strip.”

As for humanitarian aid, Lazzarini said that an average of 160-200 trucks per day were entering Gaza since the truce began but that this was still not nearly enough. Lazzarini was echoed on that by World Food Program Executive Director Cindy McCain, who told hostess Margaret Brennan that “the bottom line here is that we need to get more aid in, as—as has been said. We are looking at possible—possibly being on the brink of famine in this region. This is something that’s not only terrific, but it will spread. And—and with that comes disease and—and everything else that you can imagine.”