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File photo of United Nations vehicle Alamy

Israeli army claims UN vehicle hit in Rafah was in 'combat zone' after worker dies

Monday’s attack marked the first time a UN international employee has been killed in the Gaza war.

THE ISRAELI MILITARY has said that a vehicle carrying UN staff that was hit in Rafah in southern Gaza was in an “active combat zone” at the time.

The United Nations said that a UN security services member was killed in an attack on a vehicle in Gaza on Monday, marking the first death of a UN international employee in the Palestinian territory since the war began more than seven months ago.

Another United Nations Department of Safety and Security (DSS) staff member was wounded in the attack, a spokesman for UN chief Antonio Guterres said, adding that the two had been travelling to the European Hospital in Rafah when their vehicle was hit.

When asked about the attack, the military sent AFP a statement apparently drafted on Monday saying that the DSS had informed it of the hit.

“An initial inquiry conducted indicates that the vehicle was hit in an area declared an active combat zone,” the military said, maintaining that it had “not been made aware of the route of the vehicle”.

“The incident is under review,” it said, without attributing responsibility for the strike.

The DSS did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

While Monday’s attack marked the first time a UN international employee has been killed in the Gaza war, a large number of local staff have been killed.

The UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, alone has lost 188 of its 13,000 Gaza staff, according to UN figures.

“No one is safe in Gaza including aid workers,” UNRWA chief Philippe Lazzarini said on X, formerly Twitter.

The bloodiest ever Gaza war broke out after Hamas’s 7 October attack on Israel, which resulted in the deaths of more than 1,170 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally of Israeli official figures.

Israel’s retaliatory offensive against Hamas has killed at least 35,173 Palestinians in Gaza, mostly women and children, according to the Hamas-run territory’s health ministry.

© AFP 2024