UN agency protests hold-up of convoy carrying relief supplies for Palestinian refugees
The lead United Nations agency assisting Palestinian refugees today protested to the Israeli military authorities after they prevented a UN convoy carrying humanitarian aid from leaving Nablus.
The convoy of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) contained flour, sugar, rice and lentils intended for the many of those in the West Bank city of Qalqilya left homeless or needy by the recent Israeli incursions and curfews, the Agency said in a statement released in Jerusalem.
Meanwhile UNRWA’s Commissioner General, Peter Hansen, today visited Nablus following the lifting of the Israeli military curfew on the town, where he saw the extensive destruction done to the Old City, or Nablus Casbah, and talked with residents who described to him what they had endured during the intensive fighting there in the first week of April.
The people of Nablus were trying to clear the damage and many were still digging for the bodies of missing family members, the Agency said. Because of the narrow alleys of the Casbah, heavy lifting machinery has been unable to get to the scenes of the worst destruction.
“Despite all the urgent needs we are facing in Jenin we must not forget the situation in places like Nablus,” Mr. Hansen said, noting the serious damage caused to both people and their property by the Israeli incursion, including the more than 80 bodies that have been recovered from the recent fighting. “It is very sad to see the damage done to the beautiful old buildings of the Casbah, it feels very much like the Nablus incursion has torn a hole through the heart of Palestinian heritage.”
Mr. Hansen also visited the Balata and Askar camps near Nablus and saw the damage done to refugee shelters and UNRWA installations, including schools in Askar that were badly damaged by gunfire and explosive charges used by the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) to blow open doors.
The Askar Boys’ School was also used as a detention and operations centre by the IDF, despite the repeated protests of UNRWA that such practices were a violation of Israel’s agreements with the Agency.