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UN refugee agency reports fresh arson attempt by Israelis on Jerusalem headquarters

The UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, reported an arson attempt on its Jerusalem headquarters by Israeli children and young people. UNRWA's Commissioner-General expressed concern over the incident, urging an end to such actions.

Agencies and A News MIDDLE EAST
Published May 15,2024

The UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) said late Tuesday that there was an arson attempt on its headquarters in Jerusalem.

The agency said the perpetrators were "Israeli children and young people."

UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini expressed concern over the incident.

"Another arson attempt by Israeli children and young people on UNRWA in Jerusalem last night.

"This has got to stop," he added, underscoring the urgency of the situation.

Lazzarini also shared a video from Israeli media channels showing the arson attempts.

The agency last week condemned protests by right-wing Israelis outside its headquarters in East Jerusalem.

Right-wing groups staged protests outside the UNRWA office in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood last Tuesday evening to call for its closure.

The protest, during which demonstrators tried to storm the site, was called by West Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Aryeh King.

"This protest called by an elected member of the Jerusalem municipality is nothing less than harassment, intimidation, vandalism & damage to UN property," Lazzarini said on his X account.

"This has nothing to do with freedom of expression."

Lazzarini called on Israeli authorities "to protect United Nations premises, operations and staff at all times."

UNRWA has been facing Israeli pressure over unproven allegations that some agency staff were involved in last October's cross-border attack on Israel by the Palestinian group Hamas.

The US and some of its Western allies initially suspended funding to UNRWA in January, but others such as the European Union, Canada and Sweden have since backtracked and plan to resume funding.

UNRWA was created by the UN General Assembly more than 70 years ago to assist Palestinians who were forcibly displaced from their land.

The agency provides crucial support to millions of Palestinian refugees in the Gaza Strip, West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and other areas where large numbers of registered Palestinians live.