UNRWA suspends emergency food aid in Gaza

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees today stopped distributing emergency food aid to some 600,000 refugees in the Gaza Strip, or approximately half of the refugees receiving UNRWA food aid in the occupied Palestinian territory, following restrictions introduced by Israeli authorities at the sole commercial crossing through which UNRWA is able to bring in humanitarian assistance. Stocks of rice, flour, cooking oil and other essential foodstuffs that UNRWA provides to refugees reduced to poverty, or otherwise affected by a humanitarian crisis, have been fully depleted. 

UN humanitarian agencies urge Israel to lift movement restrictions into Gaza

Calling on the Israeli Government today to restore full access to Gaza for humanitarian aid, the UN Special Coordinator’s Office said new Israeli-imposed restrictions on staff movements may force humanitarian agencies to cut back on assisting Gaza’s civilian population. Nearly all humanitarian aid vehicles from the UN and other agencies have been banned from crossing at the Erez checkpoint in the last three weeks, while transporting food through the Karni corssing is now obstructed, UNSCO said. 

Security Council meets on killing of Hamas leader Yassin

Amid rising tensions in the Middle East following Monday’s assassination of Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin in Gaza, the Security Council held an open meeting today with nearly 40 speakers scheduled to take part in the debate. Palestinian delegate Nasser al-Kidwa, described the killing of Sheikh Yassin as a “war crime,” and held the occupying power and the Israeli leadership legally and politically responsible for committing that crime, as well as for the consequences that it entailed. The UN Security Council did not issue a statement on the killing. According to the Council’s President due to lack of “consensus”. 

UN holds consultations following assassination of Sheikh Yassin

Following expert-level talks held since the assassination of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and seven other civilians in Gaza yesterday, the Security Council is meeting in closed-door consultations today to discuss the situation in the Middle East. Earlier today, the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Asma Jahangir, expressed her “deepest concerns over the use of brute force which will only lead to escalating violence.” This afternoon the Commission on Human Rights decided that a special sitting will take place to consider the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories. 

Annan, UN envoy condemn Israeli assassination of Hamas leader

United Nations officials today condemned Israel’s killing of Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmad Yassin, with Secretary-General Kofi Annan calling for all concerned to avert an intensification of the conflict. “I do condemn the targeted assassination of Sheikh Yassin and the others who died with him,” Mr. Annan told reporters as he arrived at UN Headquarters in New York. “Such actions are not only contrary to international law, but they do not do anything to help the search for a peaceful solution.” With the Quartet meeting today in Cairo, Annan said the assassination “has complicated issues.” 

Japan offers assistance to Palestinian reform

The Government of Japan has decided to implement, through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the following three projects totaling 2.125 million US dollars to help the Palestinian Authority (PA) reform and improve the living conditions in the Palestinian Territories. These projects will be carried out under the assistance package of 22.25 million US dollars announced in April 2003 by Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi. In cooperation with the international community, the PA is now trying to reform the seven fields of finance, local administration, market economy, administrative and civil services, judicial system, elections and legislation. 

"Small window of opportunity" for restarting peace process remains open, Security Council told

In an open briefing to the Council on the situation in the Middle East, Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Danilo Türk said the pullout should have four main features in order to garner the broad support of the international community and strengthen its chances for success. First, it should be carried out in partnership with the Palestinian Authority and as part of the Quartet’s Road Map, which remains the only plan subscribed to by the parties and the international community, Mr. Türk said. The withdrawal should be full and complete, and it should be considered by all as a first step toward the fulfilment of the UN’s calls to the Israeli Government to end its occupation. 

UN Women's Commission approves draft resolution on Palestinian women

By a recorded vote of 39 in favour to 1 against (United States), with 1 abstention (Canada), the forty-eighth session of the Commission on the Status of Women this afternoon approved a draft resolution on the situation of Palestinian women. By the text on Palestinian women, the Economic and Social Council would, among other things, call upon the concerned parties to ensure the immediate resumption of the peace process and for tangible improvement of the difficult situation and living conditions of Palestinian women and their families.  It would also call upon Israel to facilitate the return of all refugees. 

Assistance is not a long-term solution

After long deliberations, the ICRC has taken the difficult decision to end two major relief aid programs in the West Bank. Indeed, the long-term solution is not to support the occupied population through emergency assistance but rather to ensure that its basic rights under International Humanitarian Law are respected. According to International Humanitarian Law, it is the clearly defined primary responsibility of the occupying power, in this case of the State of Israel, to take care of basic needs. 

Women's Day: UN agencies concerned with living conditions of Palestinian women

The living conditions of Palestinian women - including their access to health, education, food and employment - have been deeply affected by movement restrictions, military incursions and house demolitions, particularly in Rafah, where almost 10,000 Palestinians including many women, have been made homeless. “Today, as women all over the world celebrate international women’s day, Palestinian women continue to endure such hardship that their basic humanitarian needs are no longer guaranteed and protected,” says David S. Bassiouni, Special Representative, UNICEF in the West Bank and Gaza.