In a move to escalate the ongoing scandal, Israel has ordered the expropriation of land occupied by UNRWA offices in East Jerusalem. The Israeli government has also banned the entry of special rapporteur Francesca Albanese into its territory after she made critical comments about an attack launched on Gaza in early October.
The decision to expropriate the land was made by Israeli housing minister Yitzhak Goldknopf, who justified his actions by stating that UNRWA had acted in the service of Hamas, a terrorist group that governs Gaza. The move will affect UNRWA’s offices located in Maalot Dafna and Kafr Aqab, which are part of informally annexed East Jerusalem and fall under international law as Palestinian territories.
Israeli authorities have intensified their criticism of UNRWA following news that the organization was investigating some of its employees for having collaborated with Hamas in attacks on Israeli territory. This led to an escalation and suspicion about UNRWA’s role in Israel’s view. Francesca Albanese, an independent presumption expert appointed by the United Nations, last week criticized statements by French President Emmanuel Macron, who described the Hamas assault on Israel as “the largest anti-Semitic massacre of our century.”
In response to her comments, Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz and Interior Minister Moshe Arbel announced that Albanese was prohibited from entering Israel. Albanese responded by tweeting that this ban is not new and that it should not divert attention from Israel’s atrocities in Gaza, which he believes reach a new level every day.