UN agency suspends Gaza missions

UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East peace process suspends missions to Gaza due to Hamas closure of Erez crossing.

Ben Ariel, Canada,

Erez crossing (archive)
Erez crossing (archive)
Flash 90

A United Nations political agency suspended its missions to Gaza Friday after Hamas authorities partly closed the key border crossing into Israel, a source said.

The UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East peace process (UNSCO) will not send staff to Gaza until further notice, the source close to the organization told AFP on condition of anonymity, after Hamas imposed tough new restrictions following the death of one of its members.

The decision was made, the source added, as frustration grows at the negative impact of the restrictions for aid work and Gazan citizens.

UNSCO is the key UN agency working on the Israeli-Palestinian Authority peace process, and the restrictions will apply to its head, UN envoy for the Middle East Nickolay Mladenov.

In previous conflicts between Hamas and Israel UNSCO helped to negotiate ceasefires, and Mladenov reports regularly to the UN Security Council.

Hamas shut the Erez crossing on Sunday after blaming the Jewish state for killing senior Hamas terrorist Mazen Faqha in his home last Friday.

They reopened the crossing a day later for people going into Gaza, but people under the age of 45 are still largely prevented from leaving.

On Thursday, another UN agency, the humanitarian organization OCHA, blasted Hamas for closing the Erez crossing, saying it was "negatively impacting already vulnerable sectors in Gaza."

OCHA joined the “Palestinian NGOs Network”, a coalition of more than 100 charities and rights groups, which earlier demanded the "lifting of restrictions and restrictive measures which violate human rights".

Due to Hamas’s closing of Erez, around half a dozen international aid workers have been prevented from leaving in recent days, a senior humanitarian source told AFP.

Faqha, 38, was shot dead last week by unknown gunmen with four bullets from a pistol equipped with a silencer.

Hamas officials were quick to blame Israel for Faqha’s death and said they believe the killers received help from inside Gaza. Israel has not commented on the shooting.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)




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