UN agency assisting Palestinians seeks support amid Israeli calls for its dissolution

UNITED NATIONS — The head of the United Nations agency supporting millions of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank appealed to the Security Council on Wednesday to protect the agency from Israeli demands for its shutdown. Israel accuses the agency, known as UNRWA, of aligning with Hamas’ “terror war machine.”

Philippe Lazzarini, the UNRWA Commissioner-General, highlighted the severe consequences of dissolving the agency, warning it would exacerbate the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and accelerate the risk of famine. Experts have cautioned that escalating the six-month-long Israeli-Hamas conflict could push half of Gaza’s 2.3 million residents towards starvation, particularly in northern Gaza.

Lazzarini argued that terminating UNRWA’s operations would leave 500,000 children without education, potentially fueling “anger, resentment, and endless cycles of violence.” He also noted that ending the agency’s services, including health care, food, and other humanitarian assistance, would undermine post-war recovery efforts.

Israeli Ambassador Gilad Erdan contended, without substantiating his claim, that Hamas has completely infiltrated UNRWA, which had jurisdiction over Gaza before the conflict. Erdan also charged that UNRWA supports a Palestinian agenda to destroy Israel and promotes a “one-state solution” favorable to Palestinians.