ISSN 2330-717X

A New Anger Is Apparent At UNRWA – OpEd


By Lauren Booth

Just completed filming of ‘Remember Palestine’ at Press TV studio in West London. My guests today were Sharif Nashashibi of Arab Media Watch, Nathan Stuckey of the International Solidarity Movement and a furious sounding, Chris Gunness, Press spokesman for UNWRA.

Chris made it clear that he finds his work in Al Quds right now ‘extremely grim.’

In Anata, a Palestinian town on the outskirts of Al Quds, seven Palestinian homes were demolished earlier last week and families [were] displaced. Bulldozers and troops had arrived in the middle of the night and 52 people, including 29 children, were forced from their homes which were completely destroyed.

In another attack, Israeli forces demolished the home of a Bedouin family near Jerusalem for the fifth time, along with four other structures in an unrecognized Bedouin village.

Israel’s Civil Administration, the military body that oversees the West Bank, has confirmed the demolitions.

“During the night, there were five demolitions of illegal structures that were occupied by Bedouin populations. We’re talking about illegal structures that were built without the permission needed,” Civil Administration spokesman Guy Inbar told AFP.

The ageing excuse of families or even entire villages not ‘having a building permit’ is allowing the Israeli authorities to escalate this collective punishment. Beit Arabiya was issued a demolition order by Israeli authorities back in 1994, and has since been demolished four times; each time being rebuilt by activists from the Israeli Campaign to end the House Demolitions (ICAHD).

Other structures demolished included three homes, along with structures for housing animals.

The group said its co-director Itay Epshtain was “beaten and sustained minor injuries” during the demolitions.

Anata Hills, near Jerusalem, is an area of the West Bank under full Israeli civil and military control, where residents must obtain Israeli construction permits before building homes.

Chris Gunness, spokesman for UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, condemned the demolitions in a statement.

“These demolitions happened in the dead of night, it was freezing cold, in a community without electricity,” he said.

Last year, a coalition of international rights groups and aid organizations said Israel’s demolition of the homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem has displaced more than 1,000 people in 2011, twice that of the previous year and the highest number since 2005.

Chris Gunnes was clear in his language today, “Gone the diplomacy of yesteryear in the face of utter frustration.”

“What we are seeing with this (the house demolitions) is the mass transfer of people,” he told RP.

“What Israel is doing with its ever more frenzied policy of Palestinian house demolitions doesn’t just ‘amount to’ but is ‘Collective punishment,’” says Gunness.

Once upon a time such terms would have been used sparingly by the UN-related spokesperson, perhaps in the desperate hope that a Zionist backlash against his organization would mean some press coverage at least. Now, UNRWA faces the worst enemy of all – total silence. Silence from the mainstream media when they make an urgent appeal for USD 300 million to even begin to sustain the work the Palestinian refugees need to study, eat or rebuild homes and towns. Silence from the Jewish news agencies that have clearly decided that with this UN agency, an outraged response to their release of facts and figures, revealing the Apartheid regime’s work – is their best policy.

Nathan Struckey, an activist with the ISM spoke from Beit Hanoun, reported a 40-person march into the ‘buffer zone,’ adding that as usual the IOF opened fire using live rounds against unarmed locals and internationals. Tear gas was also used – a change from the norm when ‘only’ live ammunition was used against the unarmed protestors who dare to walk the Gazan non borders.

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Press TV

Press TV is a 24-hour English language global news network owned by Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB). Its headquarters are located in Tehran, Iran. Press TV carries news analysis, documentary talk shows and sports news worldwide with special focus on West Asia, Central Asia, and the Middle East.

2 thoughts on “A New Anger Is Apparent At UNRWA – OpEd

  • January 29, 2012 at 3:40 pm

    Assalam o alaikum Wr Wb dear sister Lauren Booth i request you and want to divert your attention to the major issue of Pakistan’s Protection Conference please give some coverage to this Conference it will be very beneficial for the unity of Muslim Ummah of the world and especially of Jihad. I heard your lecture on the protest event of Gaza in some where in England.

  • January 29, 2012 at 4:10 pm

    Lauren Booth,Continue what you are doing in the way of humanity.You are the beacon of light for many peace activist and you are winning with every step.And remember Allah SWT is on your side and victory for the people of Palestine/Gulf states/North Africa/Kashmir/Ugyir and else where is insight Inshallah.


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