Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen reacted harshly to a Dec. 4 UN proposal to work with Israel and Gaza in setting up functioning “safe zones.” He announced the revocation of the visa for the UN’s humanitarian coordinator Lynn Hastings and posted on X: “We will no longer be silent in the face of the bias of the UN.”
The proposal by Hastings, the Deputy Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, and the UN resident coordinator for the Occupied Palestinian Territory, said in part: “Israeli military operations have expanded into southern Gaza, forcing tens of thousands of others into increasingly compressed spaces, desperate to find food, water, shelter and safety. Nowhere is safe in Gaza and there is nowhere left to go. The conditions required to deliver aid to the people of Gaza do not exist. If possible, an even more hellish scenario is about to unfold, one in which humanitarian operations may not be able to respond.
“What we see today are shelters with no capacity, a health system on its knees, a lack of clean drinking water, no proper sanitation and poor nutrition for people already mentally and physically exhausted: a textbook formula for epidemics and a public health disaster.” Further, the “Announcements of establishing so-called safe zones and tented cities without assurances that people will be able to move freely and that assistance can be delivered where there is need are alarming. These zones cannot be safe nor humanitarian when unilaterally declared. The UN stands ready to work with all parties to expand the number of UN-managed safe shelters and to deliver assistance where it is needed.”