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Germany condemns ‘escalation’ of violence against UNRWA in east Jerusalem

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Germany condemned Friday the “escalation of violent protest” against the UN agency for Palestinian refugees in east Jerusalem, which temporarily closed its headquarters there following repeated attacks.

“Israel must ensure the protection of UN facilities and personnel in the occupied Palestinian territories,” the German foreign ministry said on X, formerly Twitter.

“The UN need to be able to serve their important mandate in Gaza, the West Bank and east Jerusalem.”

UNRWA chief Philippe Lazzarini announced Thursday the temporary closure of the site after Israelis set fire to its perimeter in just the latest attack.

While there were no casualties, he said the blaze caused extensive damage to the outdoor area.

It came after two months of “Israeli extremists” staging protests outside the compound, with one earlier this week turning violent when demonstrators threw stones, he said.

The Palestinian Authority, Jordan and Saudi Arabia were among those who had already condemned the arson attack.

Germany is a key supporter of Israel, offering staunch backing since the October 7 attack by Hamas that triggered the war in the Gaza Strip.

But as the conflict has ground on, Berlin has increasingly voiced criticism, calling for more humanitarian aid to be allowed into war-ravaged Gaza.

UNRWA, which coordinates nearly all aid to Gaza, has been in crisis since January, when Israel accused about a dozen of its 13,000 Gaza employees of being involved in the October attack.

This led many donor nations, including top donor the United States, to abruptly suspend funding to the agency, threatening its efforts to deliver aid in Gaza, although several have since resumed payments.

An independent review of UNRWA, led by French former foreign minister Catherine Colonna, found some “neutrality-related issues” but said Israel had yet to provide evidence for its leading allegations.

Created in 1949, the agency employs around 30,000 people in the Palestinian territories, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.

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