Israel will not renew visa of one UN employee, denies visa for another citing UN response to Hamas attacks News
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Israel will not renew visa of one UN employee, denies visa for another citing UN response to Hamas attacks

Israel’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Eli Cohen announced Monday that Israel will not renew the visa of one employee and will not issue a new visa to a second employee of the UN working on the ground in Israel and Gaza. Cohen did not specify who the UN officials were.

Cohen claimed that the move was necessary due to the UN’s response to the October 7 Hamas attacks, which prompted Israel to declare war against Hamas, writing:

The conduct of the UN since October 7th is a disgrace to the organization and the international community. This disgrace began with the Secretary-General who legitimized war crimes and crimes against humanity, continued with the Human Rights Commissioner who publishes unsubstantiated blood libels, and with UN Women, an organization that for two months ignored the acts of rape committed against Israeli women.

The announcement comes as tensions between the UN and Israel have reached a fever pitch. On Friday, the UN Security Council voted in favor of a resolution, sponsored by the UAE, which increased humanitarian aid to Gaza and called for a “sustainable cessation of hostilities.” The US, one of Israel’s strongest international allies, abstained from the vote. Cohen responded to the resolution, stating:

The Security Council’s decision emphasizes the need to ensure that the UN becomes more efficient in transferring the humanitarian aid and to make sure that the aid reaches its destination and does not end up in the hands of Hamas terrorists.

The UN Security Council also voted on two resolutions earlier in 2023 calling for a ceasefire, one sponsored by Brazil and the other brought forth by UN Secretary General António Guterres who invoked Article 99 of the UN Charter to do so. Both resolutions were vetoed by the US, which has ultimate veto power as part of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council. 

The same day as the Security Council vote, Guterres highlighted the record number of UN employees killed during the Israel-Hamas War and claimed Israel’s offensive is causing “massive obstacles to the distribution of humanitarian aid inside Gaza.” In early December, Israel sent a letter to the UN stating it would not renew the visa of UN Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator for the Occupied Palestinian Territory Lynn Hastings due to her “silence” on the October 7 Hamas attacks, after Israeli officials criticized Hastings on X (formerly known as Twitter). Also in early December, the UN condemned the restart of armed conflict in the wake of the end of the negotiated humanitarian pause, calling for a ceasefire and the return of all hostages held by Hamas. In late October, Cohen stated he would not meet with 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 current Israel-Hamas war began on October 7 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 subsequently ended. The Gaza Health Ministry has alleged that the death toll in Gaza has reached over 20,000, while the Israeli government has stated that Israeli casualties have surpassed a thousand, with hundreds abducted by Hamas.