Israel’s ambassador to the UN classified the world body as a “terrorist organization”, increasing tensions between the two sides amid the country’s war against Hamas in Gaza and attacks on UN facilities in Jerusalem.

Gilad Erdan, the ambassador, said in an interview with Israel Army Radio on Wednesday that the UN “has become a collaborator with Hamas… perhaps even more than that – a terrorist organization in its own right.”

“It cooperates with Hamas, provides cover for it and [é liderada por] a general secretary [António Guterres] who is quick to criticize Israel,” he added.

Relations between Israel and the UN deteriorated sharply over the course of the war in Gaza, with mutual recriminations over responsibility for the humanitarian crisis in the devastated enclave and the alleged role of about a dozen Palestinian refugee agency officials in the Hamas attack on October 7th that triggered the conflict. Israel also alleged that militants used UN facilities.

UN officials and agencies have been some of the loudest voices highlighting the devastation caused by Israel’s retaliatory offensive against Hamas in Gaza following the militant group’s October 7 attack.

Guterres, who has repeatedly condemned attacks on aid workers, warned that Gaza was becoming a “cemetery” for children and called for an immediate ceasefire.

Erdan’s statements came after at least two arson attacks last week against the headquarters of UNRWA, the Palestinian refugee agency, in East Jerusalem, by what the organization described as “Israeli children and youth.”

Jewish ultranationalists protested at the facility last Wednesday, getting close enough to knock on the gates despite the presence of police, according to video seen by the Financial Times.

Arieh King, deputy mayor of Jerusalem, wrote in X last Thursday that other international facilities in the city could be attacked, describing the UN as a “Natzi organization [sic]”.

He added that “there is no place for [o] enemy in our holy city.”

According to a person familiar with the matter, the UN filed formal complaints about the incidents with the police and the Israeli Foreign Ministry, but received no response. Police and the ministry were not immediately available for comment. No senior Israeli official criticized King’s statements.

King, writing in X, also “welcomed” attacks on Gaza-bound aid trucks in the occupied West Bank over the weekend. Israeli far-right activists, opposed to providing any humanitarian relief to Gaza residents, have regularly attempted to block convoys from reaching the war-torn enclave.

On Tuesday, the Israel Defense Forces released drone footage that it claimed showed armed men operating at a UN facility in the southern Gaza city of Rafah. Gunmen can be seen entering white UN vehicles and shooting at civilians near the compound.

Juliette Touma, UNRWA communications director, said the aid agency could not verify the authenticity of the images, but said they were “probably” from a warehouse in Rafah that was forced to evacuate last week ahead of an IDF ground raid. in the area.

Daniel Hagari, the IDF’s chief spokesman, on Tuesday called on the UN to “urgently investigate the connection between UNRWA logistics centers and Hamas operatives.”

Israel has faced intensified international criticism for its military push into Rafah, which it claims is Hamas’ last stronghold in Gaza but also home to around 1 million displaced Palestinians. Israeli officials described last week’s initial raid on the outskirts of Rafah as “limited and precise”, but fears are growing of a wider operation that could have dire humanitarian consequences.

Earlier this week, a UN vehicle was hit by unidentified fire near the Rafah border crossing connecting Gaza with Egypt, which the IDF seized last week. The attack killed a former Indian army officer working for the UN and injured another foreign aid worker who was evacuated for medical treatment in Jordan. The IDF said it was investigating the incident, with UN officials attributing the damage to an Israeli tank shell.

Also on Tuesday, an Israeli airstrike hit a UNRWA school in a refugee camp in Nusseirat in central Gaza. The IDF said the target was a “Hamas war room” and that more than 10 senior Hamas militants were killed.

The Israeli government, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, on Wednesday rejected outright a UN General Assembly resolution passed last week promoting the creation of a Palestinian state.

“No one will stop us from realizing our basic right to self-defense – not the UN General Assembly nor any other body,” Netanyahu said. Erdan was photographed destroying a copy of the UN charter after the vote.

Black Zilberno Financial Times


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