U.S., Canada to suspend funding to U.N. aid agency in Gaza

January 27, 2024

At least 170 killed in 18 strikes in the last 24 hours, Gaza health ministry says

More than 170 people have been killed in 18 separate Israeli attacks on Gaza over the past 24 hours, according to the health ministry in Gaza, adding that the total number of casualties is unclear as rubble on the roads is limiting ambulance access.

The figures put Gaza’s death toll over 26,200, with thousands more missing and presumed dead, and another 64,800 injured.

PLO calls for resumption of funding to UNRWA

“We call on the countries that announced the cessation of their support for #UNRWA to immediately reverse their decision, which entails great political and humanitarian relief risks,” said Hussein al-Sheikh, the Secretary General of the The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), in a post on X today.

UNRWA needs “maximum support” in light of continuing war in Gaza, rather than dips in funding, he added. The PLO is internationally recognized as the representative of the Palestinian people.

Countries including the U.S. and Australia have announced temporary suspensions to funds for the agency, following reports that up to 12 of its staffers participated in the Hamas attacks of October 7.

UNRWA provides relief and aid to civilians living in Gaza, and employs about 13,000 Palestinians. More than 1.4 million internally displaced people are currently sheltering inside and around temporary UNRWA facilities.

U.S. and U.K. strike Yemeni port, Houthis say

The U.S. and the U.K. have targeted the Ras Issa area of Hudaydah, in two raids on the port city on the Red Sea, Al-Masirah, a Houthi-run TV channel said today.

It did not specify the extent of the damage or if there were any casualties.

NBC News was unable to independently verify this report. The raids follow a strike against a Houthi anti-ship missile by the U.S early this morning.

Aftermath of a strike in Rafah

Fatima Shbair / AP

A man shovels rubble following a strike in Rafah today.

Hamas says accusations againt UNRWA employees an attempt to cut off aid

Hamas, the militant group that governs Gaza, described accusations from Israeli authorities that staff members working for the U.N.’s agency for Palestinian refugees were involved in the Oct. 7 attacks as “hollow.”

In a statemnet today, it accused Israel of incitement against the “international institutions that contribute to the relief of our people.”

Hamas denied Israel’s accusations, saying they had the aim of “cutting off [UNRWA’s] funding and depriving our people of their right to the services of these international agencies,” and called on the U.N “not to yield to the threats and blackmails.”

Australia to join U.S and Canada in pausing funding to UNRWA

Australia will temporarily pause funding to the U.N’s agency for Palestinian refugees amid reports that staffers in Gaza were involved in Hamas’ Oct 7. attacks on Israel, the foreign minister has said.

“Allegations UNRWA staff were involved in the abhorrent October 7 terror attacks are deeply concerning,” Foreign Minister Penny Wong said in a statement today. “We are speaking with partners and will temporarily pause disbursement of recent funding.”

The U.S and Canada also paused funding to the agency after it said Friday that Israeli authorities had notified them of the involvement of several staff members in the October attacks. The contracts of accused staff members were terminated and an investigation launched, UNRWA commissioner-general Philippe Lazzarini said yesterday.

UNRWA, whose biggest donors include the U.S, E.U and Germany, is the primary U.N agency tasked with providing aid and relief to civilians in Gaza. More than 1.4 million internally displaced people are living inside or around its shelters and facilities in Gaza and hundred of thousands are dependant on the agency for food and supplies.

UNRWA warns of liver infection spreading in informal camps in Gaza

The U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees said Hepatitis A infection is spreading in informal camps in Gaza “due to overcrowding and lack of clean water and proper sanitary.”

UNRWA Partners said in a statement on X today that UNRWA has been watching the situation, and suspected cases in January are 16 times higher than those last November.

“The massive increase reflects worsening living conditions in Gaza, particularly shortage of safe water and inadequate sanitation and hygiene,” it added.

Hepatitis A infection is a type of short-term liver infection caused by a virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adding that it would not become chronic.

Israel’s El Al suspends South Africa route over World Court case

El Al Israel Airlines said today it was suspending its route to Johannesburg at the end of March, citing a steep drop in demand after South Africa accused Israel of genocide at the World Court.

Israel’s flag carrier flies up to twice weekly nonstop to Johannesburg.

“Israelis don’t want to fly to South Africa,” said an El Al spokesperson. “They are cancelling flights and planes are pretty empty… We understand it’s the situation because it was different before.”

The International Court of Justice has ordered Israel to take all measures within its power to prevent acts of genocide against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, a ruling that could have far reaching consequences though the court has no power to enforce it. The United Nations’ top court stopped short of ordering the cease-fire requested by South Africa.

Pediatrician on crisis in Gaza: ‘I ran out of words to describe this’ 

Dr. Tanya Haj-Hassan, an Intensive Care Pediatrician, describes the desperate scenario facing mothers in Gaza giving birth in the throes of war.

U.S. strikes Houthi missile in Yemen; oil tanker hit earlier

The U.S. military struck what it said was a missile in Houthi-controlled Yemen in the latest attack against the Iran-backed militants which have been firing at commercial ships in the red Sea.

The strike was carried out around 3:45 a.m. Saturday local time and targeted an anti-ship missile aimed at the Red Sea, U.S. Central Command said in a statement.

“It presented an imminent threat to merchant vessels and the U.S. Navy ships in the region. U.S. Forces subsequently struck and destroyed the missile in self-defense,” Central Command, known as CENTCOM, said.

The U.S. military action follows reports of a commercial vessel that was struck by a missile, but the military did not link that attack to the strike in Yemen in its statement.

The Marlin Luanda was struck by a Houthi missile while in the Gulf of Aden earlier today, sparking a fire in the ship’s cargo tank, two U.S. defense officials said.

Commodity trading company Trafigura said the Marlin Luanda, a petroleum products tanker, was hit by a missile as in the Gulf as it was transiting the Red Sea.

“We remain in contact with the vessel and are monitoring the situation carefully. Military ships in the region are underway to provide assistance,” the company said in a statement on its website. The fire was in one cargo tank on the starboard side, and firefighting efforts were taken in response, it said.

IDF calls for residents of Khan Younis refugee camp, other neighborhoods to evacuate

The Israel Defense Forces urged residents of some neighborhoods in western Khan Younis in southern Gaza to leave the areas immediately.

Avichay Adraee, the IDF spokesperson for the Arab media, posted a map of southern Gaza on X today to show the areas that need to be evacuated as soon as possible, including al-Nasr, al-Amal, the city center and Khan Younis refugee camp.

He added that all the residents in these areas need to move via designated al-Bahr Street to al-Mawasi, a humanitarian area near the coast.

An Israeli tank and other military vehicles guard a position as Palestinians flee Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip  on January 26, 2024.
An Israeli tank and other military vehicles guard a position as Palestinians flee Khan Younis in southern Gaza yesterday.AFP – Getty Images

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