Sun 10 Dec 2023 4:29 pm - Jerusalem Time
UNRWA accuses Israel of paving the way for the expulsion of the residents of the Gaza Strip to Egypt
The Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), Philippe Lazzarini, accused Israel of paving the way for the mass expulsion of residents of the Gaza Strip to Egypt across the border.
In an article published by the Los Angeles Times on Saturday, Lazzarini pointed to the worsening humanitarian crisis in Gaza and the crowding of displaced civilians who fled the fighting increasingly near the border in the north and then the south. According to Lazzarini, “the United Nations and many member states, including the United States, The United States strongly rejected the forcible displacement of Gazans from the Strip.”
But he added, "the developments we are witnessing indicate attempts to transfer Palestinians to Egypt, regardless of whether they reside there or are resettled elsewhere."
The Commissioner-General of the UN agency said that the widespread destruction in the northern Gaza Strip and the resulting displacement is “the first stage of this scenario,” noting that the next stage is forcing civilians to leave the city of Khan Yunis, in the south, near the border.
He said, "If this path continues, it will lead to what many are already calling the Second Nakba. Gaza will no longer be a land for the Palestinians," referring to the Palestinian Nakba, when 760,000 Palestinians were displaced during the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948.
A spokesman for the Israeli Coordination Authority for Civil Affairs in the Palestinian Territories (COGAT) commented to AFP on Lazzarini’s accusations, saying: “There is, has never been, and will never be an Israeli plan to transfer the residents of Gaza to Egypt. This is simply not true.”
A small number of residents of the Gaza Strip were allowed to travel to Egypt to receive treatment, and a number of holders of foreign passports were also allowed to leave the Strip through the Rafah crossing.
The war broke out after a surprise attack launched by Hamas on October 7 on the Israeli border towns with the Gaza Strip, resulting in the killing of 1,200 people, most of them civilians, according to the Israeli authorities.
Israel responded with intense bombing of the Gaza Strip and a ground operation that led to the deaths of 17,700 people and the wounding of about 49,000.
Humanitarian organizations warn of the catastrophic situation in the Gaza Strip and the spread of diseases and famine.