The Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA evacuated most of its international senior officials from the Gaza Strip Monday due to fears for their safety.
The overseas staffers had received death threats and threats of violence after the announcement of cuts and planned layoffs by the organization in the wake of the US decision that it would no longer fund the agency.
The officials were said to have been harassed by employees of the agency.
The officials were taken out of the coastal enclave via the Erez Crossing, despite the fact that the checkpoint was officially closed for the Jewish holiday of Sukkot.
A source with knowledge of the situation said only six foreign staffers remained out of the 19 who are usually there.
The Israeli Defense Ministry unit that oversees the crossing said a number of foreign employees from the agency known as UNRWA “were evacuated from the Gaza Strip to Israel.”
The head and deputy head of UNRWA currently remain in Gaza, but Ynet reported that, according to multiple sources, they too may be evacuated in the future.
UNRWA confirmed later Monday it had “decided to temporarily withdraw part of its international staff from Gaza following a series of worrying security incidents affecting its personnel in the Strip.”
The agency’s statement said that “earlier today, a number of staff were harassed and prevented from carrying out their duties.”
“Some of these actions have specifically targeted the UNRWA management in Gaza,” it said.
It called on the authorities in the enclave run by Islamist terrorist movement Hamas “to respond to its repeated demands to provide effective protection to its employees and facilities.”
Source: Times of Israel