Israel refuses to extend visa for UN humanitarian aid coordinator News
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Israel refuses to extend visa for UN humanitarian aid coordinator

UN Spokesperson for the Secretary-General Stéphane Dujarric announced Friday during his daily press briefing that UN Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator for the Occupied Palestinian Territory Lynn Hastings’ visa will not be extended by the Israeli government when it expires in late December.

During the briefing, Dujarric stated:

[W]e’ve been informed by the Israeli authorities that they will not renew the visa of Ms. Hastings past its due date at some point later this month. As a matter of policy, anywhere around the world, UN people do not overstay their visas. That’s just a fact. I can, and I’ve said this before, reiterate the Secretary-General’s full confidence in Ms. Hastings, the way she’s conducted herself and the way she’s done her work.

The letter sent by Israel has not been released; however, Voice of America (VOA) claims to have reviewed the contents of the November 12th letter from Deputy Director General of Israel’s Foreign Ministry Amir Weissbrod. VOA asserts the letter states, “We regret to inform you that Ms. Hastings has lost the trust and confidence of Israeli authorities and is no longer in a position to fulfill her responsibilities effectively with the relevant Israeli officials.” Weissbrod allegedly went on to criticize Hasting’s “silence” on the October 7th Hamas attacks that killed over a thousand according to the Israeli government, stating, “This silence has been all the more stunning, and profoundly offensive, given Ms. Hastings’s willingness to regularly and irresponsibly direct criticism at Israel.” Israel’s Foreign Ministry has been critical of Hastings in the past, posting on X (formerly known as Twitter), “According to UN ethics, she is supposed to be impartial and objective, but unfortunately, she is neither. Hastings’ dangerous rhetoric endangers innocent Israeli and Palestinian civilians.”

This has been the latest development in the continually escalating tensions between Israel and the UN. In late October, Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs Eli Cohen stated he would not meet with UN Secretary-General António Guterres, writing, “I will not meet with the UN Secretary-General. After the October 7th massacre, there is no place for a balanced approach. Hamas must be erased off the face of the planet!” The UN has also condemned the restart of armed conflict in the wake of the end of the recent humanitarian pause, calling for a ceasefire and the return of all hostages held by Hamas. 

The current Israel-Hamas war began on October 7th when Hamas initiated several attacks on Israel. Shortly after the attacks, Israel declared war on Hamas and began heavily bombing the Gaza Strip. Both Israel and Hamas have been accused of multiple war crimes throughout the conflict. A deal was reached between Israel and Hamas in late November for a humanitarian pause, which was later extended but ended Friday. The Gaza Health Ministry has alleged that the death toll in Gaza has reached 15,200, the majority women and children, while the Israeli government has stated that Israeli casualties have surpassed a thousand, with hundreds abducted by Hamas.