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UNRWA commissioner slams Israel for hindering (HA´ARETZ NEWS) By The Associated Press 12/11/02 23:03)Source: http://www.haaretzdaily.com/hasen/pages/ShArt.jhtml?itemNo=240213&contrassID=1&subContrassID=0&sbSubContrassID=0 HA'ARETZ} NEWS SERVICE HA'ARETZ} NEWS SERVICE Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
The Commissioner-General of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) accused Israel on Wednesday of hindering the organization´s work and not respecting its "humanitarian obligations," although he said he understood Israel´s security concerns.

Peter Hansen said Israeli troops regularly harassed UNRWA workers at checkpoints. Two UN school employees were among 10 Palestinians killed in Gaza on Friday.

"We understand the very serious security problem faced by the Israelis and expect the Israeli government to take measures against suicide bombers ... but many of the measures that have been applied against UNRWA cannot find reasonable explanation," Hansen said. "Many of them are unnecessarily hampering UNRWA´s work."

Recently, Israeli troops had subjected relief workers to "even stricter controls and obstacles," and numerous letters of complaint to officials remain unanswered, he said.

"We protest every time we feel they are not respecting their humanitarian obligations. Twenty-three staff members were detained for long periods without any explanation at all, and we have written dozens of letters ... but not a single response," he added.

Hansen said he hopes the situation will improve after Sunday, when he is scheduled to meet Gen. Amos Gilad, the Israeli army´s coordinator of activities in the territories.

"We have been given several assurances of improvement in the situation. I hope that once again we will receive assurances and this time we see improvement in our capacity to work," Hansen said.

A spokesman for Gilad said he was not aware of any such meeting scheduled for Sunday.

Hansen was in Amman after launching an international appeal for $94 million in relief aid in the Palestinian territories for the first six months of 2003.

Tensions between UNRWA and Israel have been high since soldiers shot and killed one of the agency´s British employees, Iain Hook, on Nov. 22 during a gunbattle with armed Palestinians in Jenin.

The army said its soldiers mistook a cellphone Hook was using for a weapon and that gunmen had entered the walled UN compound. UNRWA denies that gunmen had entered the compound. (© Copyright 2002 Ha´aretz 12/11/02)


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