The UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), established in 1948 to handle masses of Palestinian refugees created by the founding of Israel, becomes the aid group of first resort during these intermittent Israeli military flareups against the occupied territories. This time, it’s also a target.
The UNRWA is struggling to cope with hundreds of thousands of displaced Gazans trying to flee to their 85 shelters, and that task is quickly overwhelming the agency, reportedly out of money.
It’s not just the refugees that are testing the mettle of the UNRWA workers. The staffers are finding themselves among the targets of the Israeli onslaught, with multiple strikes hitting the shelters themselves, killing civilians and aid workers alike.
UN officials are increasingly critical of the Israeli war, and the apparent indiscriminate targeting of civilian facilities. The UNRWA is also warning that beyond the war crimes of targeting refugees, the Israeli military could be facing some new obligations.
According to UNRWA head Pierre Krahenbuhl, the growing Israeli military presence once again makes them a de facto occupying power, and would oblige them under international law to be responsible for the survival of the civilian populace.
Israel clearly doesn’t see it that way, and their invasion force seems to have little use for Gaza’s civilian population, killing them in large numbers.