RAFAH, Gaza Strip (AP) — The secretary-general of the United Nations on Sunday called on countries to resume funding the main agency providing aid in the Gaza Strip after a dozen of its employees were accused of taking part in the Hamas attack on Israel that ignited the war four months ago.
The dispute engulfing the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees came as U.S. officials said negotiators were closing in on a cease-fire agreement. The emerging deal would bring a two-month halt to the deadliest-ever Israeli-Palestinian violence, which has stoked instability across the Middle East.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned that the agency known as UNRWA would be forced to scale back aid to more than 2 million Palestinians in Gaza as soon as February. The coastal enclave is in the grip of a severe humanitarian crisis, with a quarter of the population facing starvation as fighting and Israeli restrictions hinder the delivery of humanitarian aid to the besieged territory.
“The abhorrent alleged acts of these staff members must have consequences,” Guterres said in a statement.
“But the tens of thousands of men and women who work for UNRWA, many in some of the most dangerous situations for humanitarian workers, should not be penalized. The dire needs of the desperate populations they serve must be met,” he added.
He said that of the 12 employees accused of taking part in the attack, nine were immediately…