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Israeli Ambassador to UN Accuses UNRWA Workers, Local Journalists of Being Hamas Members

November 11, 2023
Photo: Israeli ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan
Photo: Israeli ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan. Photo credit: UN Web TV

Israeli representative to the United Nations Gilad Erdan accused Gaza-based workers of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), as well as local contributors of international media organizations, of being members of Hamas.

Erdan questioned the data coming out of the Strip, saying that everything in Gaza is controlled by Hamas, in a speech to the Security Council on 10 November.

UN officials and heads of agencies are “relaying falsehoods completely detached from reality,” Erdan stated. He added that the UN system is “enabling terrorism.”

“Many UNRWA workers in Gaza are themselves members of Hamas,” the Israeli ambassador claimed, adding that “local contributors to international media are Hamas members.”

The New York Times issued a statement on 9 November defending freelance photojournalist Yousef Masoud against the “vague allegations” made by the organization HonestReporting which insinuated that several Gaza-based photojournalists were colluding with Hamas.

Erdan said that there was a ceasefire on 6 October, but Hamas broke it when they killed 1,400 Israelis.

Gaza, widely described as an “open-air prison,” has been under blockade since 2007.

On the same day, Israeli foreign ministry spokesperson Lior Haiat said that “about 1,200 people” were killed on 7 October. He later confirmed to AFP that the number was revised as a number of unidentified bodies were counted, which Israel now believes belong to Hamas members.

On his part, Palestinian ambassador to the UN Riyad Mansour appealed to the council to implement a ceasefire and listen to UN agencies.

“We meet and you can hear in these halls, if you listen well, the shouts of our children under the rubble abandoned by humanity,” Mansour said.

“The killer never hid his intentions; he spoke of mighty vengeance and human animals and declared he would impose a terrifying siege […] He called for the release of 200 hostages while taking over two million hostages in the process,” he added.

The Conflict So Far

After a surprise attack conducted on 7 October by Hamas on a number of southern Israeli towns which resulted in the deaths of an estimated 1,200 people and more than 220 being taken hostage by Hamas, Israel launched a retaliatory bombing campaign against what it describes as ‘terrorist targets’ in the Gaza Strip.

Around 11,025 Palestinians have been killed in the Gaza Strip — including at least 4,506 children — and over 27,000 others injured. Meanwhile, at least 183 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank and at least 2,200 have been injured.

The priority of the Egyptian government since the beginning of the conflict has been deescalation and securing a path for aid to enter the Gaza Strip through the Rafah crossing. Israel bombed the crossing at least six times, and limited aid trucks have crossed to Gaza so far, which UN officials warn is insufficient amid dire humanitarian conditions.

Most Western countries, with the United States at the forefront, have expressed unconditional support for Israel, despite the steadily rising death toll in Gaza. Meanwhile, the United Nations General Assembly has issued a resolution calling for a ceasefire.

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