UNRWA commissioner slams Israel for hindering (HA´ARETZ NEWS) By The Associated Press 12/11/02 23:03)
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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
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
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
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
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