UNRWA says Israel’s call to move more than 1 mln of Gaza’s civilians is ‘horrendous’

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The United Nations Palestinian refugee agency on Friday described Israel’s call to move more than 1 million civilians in northern Gaza in 24 hours as “horrendous” and said the enclave was rapidly becoming a “hell hole.”

Israel’s military made the call as it amassed tanks for an expected ground invasion in response to a devastating attack by the militant group Hamas.

“The call from the Israelis Forces to move more than 1 million civilians living in northern Gaza within 24 hours is horrendous,” Philippe Lazzarini, Commissioner General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), said in a statement.

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“This will only lead to unprecedented levels of misery and further push people in Gaza into abyss.”

Lazzarini said more than 423,000 people have already been displaced, and more than 270,000 had taken refuge in UNRWA shelters.

“The scale and speed of the unfolding humanitarian crisis is bone-chilling,” he said. “Gaza is fast becoming a hell hole and is on the brink of collapse.”
UNRWA said earlier on Friday that it had relocated its central operations center and international staff to Gaza’s south to continue its humanitarian operations.

Established in 1949 following the first Arab-Israeli war, the agency provides public services including schooling, primary healthcare and humanitarian aid in Gaza, the West Bank, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.

Israeli authorities have accused UNRWA of perpetuating the Palestinian refugee problem and said that anti-Israeli sentiment is rife in its institutions - charges the agency dismisses.

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