In response to the escalation of the scandal, the Israeli government ordered on Monday to seize the land occupied by the UNRWA offices in East Jerusalem. Additionally, it banned entry into its territory for special rapporteur Francesca Albanese after she made comments about an attack launched on Gaza Strip that were deemed “anti-Semitic” by Israeli authorities.
The housing minister Yitzhak Goldknopf ordered Yaakov Quint, director general of Israel Lands Authority (ILA), to expropriate the land used by UNRWA in East Jerusalem. In a letter, Goldknopf instructed Quint to immediately put an end to all agreements signed between ILA and UNRWA and evict the agency from all territories leased to Israel. The move will affect the offices of UNRWA in Maalot Dafna and Kafr Aqab, located in East Jerusalem informally annexed by Israel since 1967 and part of Palestinian territories under international law.
Goldknopf justified his decision by stating that UNRWA “acted in service” of Hamas, an Islamist movement and terrorist group that governs Gaza Strip, and even participated in the brutal massacre on October 7. He added that his intention was to put an end to this collaboration and kick them out of Israel.
The Israeli authorities have redoubled their criticism of UNRWA after it was revealed that some employees had collaborated with Hamas in attacks against Israeli territory, which led to the current war. Francesca Albanese, a special rapporteur appointed by United Nations, criticized statements made by French President Emmanuel Macron describing Hamas assault as “the largest anti-Semitic massacre of our century.”
Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz and Interior Minister Moshe Arbel described these comments as “scandalous” and announced that she was prohibited from entering Israel. Albanese responded on social media shortly after saying that Israel’s ban is not new and has been happening since 2008. He stated that this should not divert attention from Israel’s atrocities in Gaza which are at a new level.