In the early morning hours of 20 May, Israeli military forces broke into and occupied UNRWA’s Jenin Camp Reconstruction Project Office near Jenin camp in the West Bank. A shot was fired in the direction of UNRWA’s senior project manager, Mr. Paul Wolstenholme, as he attempted to gain access to the office, but fortunately he remained unharmed. The soldiers detained the office’s security guard. Mr. Wolstenholme, who attempted to convince the soldiers to leave the UNRWA installation, was not only detained for over three hours and threatened with physical violence, but was handcuffed and blindfolded as well.
This is the second time Israeli soldiers have forcefully entered the Jenin Project Office. After UNRWA protested the first incursion, the IDF admitted that a mistake had been made by the soldiers and that there had been no intention to enter a UN facility. Apologies have again been received from several sources within the IDF, but the fact that the same mistake has recurred, combined this time with the abuse of Mr. Wolstenholme, is of great concern to UNRWA, particularly given that Mr. Wolstenholme’s predecessor, Mr. Iain Hook, was shot and killed by an Israeli soldier in November 2002.
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) has strongly protested to the Israeli authorities this most recent failure of Israeli soldiers to ensure the inviolability of UN premises and the safety of those working with and for the United Nations.
The Director of UNRWA Operations in the West Bank, Mr. Anders Fange, said: “I am personally upset and alarmed. Israel has agreed to ensure the protection and security of the personnel, installations and property of UNRWA, but this was not done in the present case.” Mr. Fange expressed the hope that the Israeli military would in the future show greater restraint and respect for UN staff and installations.