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UNRWA head urges Germany to press Israel to halt deadly attacks on UN workers

Germany must press Israel to stop its deadly attacks on UN aid workers, the head of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) said on Wednesday.

“Germany must help the UN protect itself against Israel’s attacks. There is no contradiction, being a close friend of Israel and (having) red lines," UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini said in an interview with the German Der Spiegel news magazine.

“So far 192 of our employees have been killed in Gaza. There have also been several arson attacks on our headquarters in East Jerusalem,” he added.

Lazzarini pointed out that UNRWA workers had been abused and tortured by Israel during their imprisonment.

“Released employees have reported to us that they faced mistreatment, humiliation and torture: including even waterboarding,” he said.

“Many were almost naked, blindfolded and with cable tied up for long periods of time. What I had never heard before: that prisoners were forced to wear diapers for weeks because they couldn't get access to sanitary facilities - or just to humiliate them, Lazzarini added.

In April, the UNRWA head said that “an insidious (Israeli) campaign to end UNRWA’s operations is underway, with serious implications for peace and security.”

“Israel seeks to end UNRWA’s activities in Gaza, the Agency’s requests to deliver aid to the north are repeatedly denied, staff are barred from coordination meetings between Israel and humanitarian actors and, worse, UNRWA premises and staff have been targeted since the beginning of the war,” he added.

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