US says Israel should allow UN Palestinian agency chief in Gaza

AFP , Tuesday 19 Mar 2024

The United States said Tuesday that Israel should let the head of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees UNRWA into Gaza, after he was denied entry.

 US State Department Spokesperson Vedant Patel
File Photo: US State Department Spokesperson Vedant Patel addresses a press briefing. AFP


"Our belief is that they should be able to visit UNRWA's field of operation, including in Gaza, and we're going to continue to work with the government of Israel to rapidly approve all requested visas for UN and NGO workers," State Department spokesman Vedant Patel told reporters.

UNRWA chief Philippe Lazzarini said Monday in Cairo that he had intended to go into the southern Gaza city of Rafah, but that he was denied entry by Israel.

Israel has charged that the UN agency is a front for Hamas, pointing to the alleged participation of several UNRWA employees in the Al-Aqsa Flood Operation in Israel on October 7.

The United States has suspended funding for UNRWA and called for an investigation, but called the work of the agency invaluable.

Patel did not comment on whether the United States has raised with Israel the denial of entry to Lazzarini.

"All regional governments need to do what is necessary to enable the humanitarian response and this of course includes allowing the free movement of international staff," Patel said.

* This story was edited by Ahram Online.

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