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Source: United Nations Information Service at Geneva
1 October 2004





Press Document

01/10/04
REGULAR PRESS BRIEFING BY THE INFORMATION SERVICE

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Israeli-occupied Territories

Matthias Burchard, Chief of the Liaison Office of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), said that he had come to update journalists on the situation in Gaza as conditions were seriously affecting UNRWA's ability to fulfill its mandate and its humanitarian services. Yesterday, Israeli tanks had demolished the boundary walls of three UNRWA schools in the Jablia camp, and had destroyed in one school the residence of the school attendant. They had now taken up positions in these three schools, using them as military camps and firing positions. UNRWA strongly protested the totally unacceptable misuse of clearly marked UN installations, and called on the Israeli military forces to respect the neutrality of these places. UNRWA had repeatedly stated its understanding for Israelis' legitimate right to defend themselves, but it could not condone the use of heavy military equipment and firing within one of the most densely populated areas of the Gaza Strip, which would only result in the death and wounding of many innocent civilians trapped in the camp. UNRWA was not able to deliver food aid to 650,000 needy Palestinians, as its humanitarian assistance was severely hampered. Only hard ship cases received food aid.

In conclusion, Mr. Burchard said that UNRWA's Commissioner General Peter Hansen had not been allowed to leave the Gaza Strip to attend the annual meeting of the agencies Advisory Commission.

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