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8 January 2009
Major UN agency suspends Gaza relief operations after Israeli strike kills two drivers
8 January 2009 – A United Nations agency that is a lifeline for 750,000 Palestinian refugees in Gaza suspended food delivery operations today after Israeli strikes killed two of its drivers on the 13th day of an offensive launched with the stated aim of ending Hamas militant rocket attacks into Israel.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the Israeli firing and once again called for an immediate ceasefire.
The attack on the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) workers followed Israeli shelling near an UNRWA school two days ago when over 40 people were killed. Israel said it was returning fire from the area. UN officials have stressed that there were no Hamas or other militants inside the school.
issued by his spokesperson, Mr. Ban said two UNRWA contract workers were killed and another injured when the UN aid convoy came under fire.
“According to reports from UN agencies, this incident took place during the three-hour humanitarian lull announced by the IDF [Israeli Defence Forces]. Since the conflict began 13 days ago, four
local staff have been killed. The UN is in close touch with the Israeli authorities about full investigation of this and other incidents, and about the need for urgent measures to avoid them in the future,” it added.
“The Secretary-General calls once again for an immediate ceasefire in order to facilitate full and unhindered humanitarian access, and to allow aid workers to work in safety to reach persons in need. UNRWA has been forced to suspend food distribution as it cannot guarantee the safety of its staff. The inability of the UN to provide assistance in this worsening humanitarian crisis is unacceptable.”
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