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War on Gaza: Israel planning to replace Unrwa in Gaza with USAID or WFP, says report

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War on Gaza: Israel planning to replace Unrwa in Gaza with USAID or WFP, says report

Ynet news site says Israeli officials are considering alternatives to the UN agency providing services to Palestinian refugees

MEE staff

Mon, 02/05/2024 – 11:05

A man wearing a jacket bearing the logo of the Unwra walks along a street devastated by the passage of Israeli military vehicles and bulldozers during raids, in the Balata camp in the occupied West Bank on 4 February 2024 (AFP/Jaafar Ashtiyeh)

Israeli officials are planning to replace the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees (Unrwa) in the Gaza Strip with other organisations, Israeli news site Ynet reported on Sunday. 

The plan, drawn up by the foreign ministry, aims to remove Unrwa from the so-called “day after” reality in the war-ravaged Palestinian enclave.

The main alternative is the World Food Programme (WFP), according to Ynet, with the US Agency for International Development (USAID) also in consideration. 

The proposal will be presented to the political-security cabinet for approval, the report added. 

Unrwa is the largest relief organisation operating in the Gaza Strip, which has been under a four-month Israeli bombing campaign and totsl siege that has pushed it to the brink of humanitarian disaster. 


Established in 1949 to accommodate Palestinian refugees forcibly displaced from their homeland by Zionist militias, the agency works to provide healthcare, education and humanitarian aid to Palestinians in Gaza, the occupied West Bank, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. 

It is currently giving shelter to over one million displaced by Israel’s latest assault in Gaza in 154 sites

Unrwa is also the second-largest employer in the Gaza Strip, hiring 30,000 people in total, 13,000 of whom are in Gaza. 

Aid suspended

Several countries, including the US and the UK, suspended funding for the Unrwa last month citing Israeli allegations that 12 out of the 30,000 employees were involved in the Hamas-led attacks on southern Israel on 7 October.

This decision has been met with criticism from around the world and from Palestinian representatives. 

Israel, Unrwa and the West: A history of claims and cuts

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Last week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the UN agency must be shut down. 

“It’s time for the international community and the UN itself to understand that Unrwa’s mission must be terminated,” Netanyahu told visiting UN delegates, according to a statement from his office.

He said Unrwa was seeking to “preserve the issue of Palestinian refugees” and that it must be replaced if the “Gaza problem” is to be solved.

The heads of UN agencies, including the WFP, and NGOs signed a joint statement last week calling on countries to reconsider pausing funds. 

“Any UN employee involved in acts of terror will be held accountable,” the heads of the UN agencies wrote. 

“However, we must not prevent an entire organisation from delivering on its mandate to serve people in desperate need.”

They said that the pausing of funds would have “catastrophic consequences” in Gaza, and urged countries to reconsider. 

Israel planning to replace Unrwa in Gaza with USAID or WFP, says report

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