9 UN staffers killed in airstrikes in Gaza since Saturday

AP , AFP , Wednesday 11 Oct 2023

The United Nations Agency for Palestinian Refugees said on Wednesday that nine of its staffers have been killed in airstrikes since the the start of the Israeli bombardment on Gaza on Saturday, with several killed late Tuesday.

A Palestinian girl seen through a hole in the wall inspects the damage in the courtyard of a school run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA) following Israeli airstrikes targeting Gaza City on October 9, 2023. AFP


“The protection of civilians is paramount, including in times of conflict,” said Juliette Touma, director of communications of the agency, known as UNRWA. “They should be protected in accordance with the laws of war.”

Touma said the strikes killed the U.N. staffers at their homes across the territory. She also said that 18 UNRWA schools-turned-shelters were damaged in the bombing and that its headquarters in Gaza City was also damaged, without causing casualties.

On Tuesday,  the United Nations said that over 260,000 people have been forced to flee their homes in the Gaza Strip, as heavy Israeli bombardments from the air, land, and sea continue to hit the Palestinian enclave.

"Over 263,934 people in Gaza are believed to have fled their homes," said UN humanitarian agency OCHA said in an update Tuesday, warning that "this number is expected to rise further".

It said that around 3,000 people had been displaced "due to previous escalations", prior to Saturday.

The Israeli bombing campaign has destroyed more than 1,000 housing units, and 560 have been so severely damaged they are uninhabitable, OCHA said, citing Palestinian authorities.

Among the displaced, nearly 175,500 people sought shelter in 88 schools run by the UN agency supporting Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, it said.

More than 14,500 others had fled to 12 government schools, while close to 74,000 were estimated to be staying with relatives and neighbors or seeking shelters in churches and other facilities.

The number of displaced people inside of Gaza "represents the highest number of people displaced since the 50-day escalation of hostilities in 2014," it said.

"Meeting basic needs is becoming increasingly challenging for those who have not been displaced," OCHA warned.

Israel has imposed what it called a "complete siege" on the already blockaded Gaza Strip, cutting off food, water, fuel, and electricity -- a move that UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned would worsen an already dire humanitarian situation.

Short link: