The UN and the European Union condemned “attacks” on UNRWA in East Jerusalem on Friday, calling on Israel to ensure the protection of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees after Israeli demonstrators attempted to set fire to its offices on Thursday.

United Nations and European officials Friday condemned attacks against the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) in east Jerusalem, which have forced it to temporarily close its headquarters.

“I condemn the recent attack on UNRWA Headquarters in East Jerusalem. Targeting aid workers and humanitarian assets is unacceptable, and must stop,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on X, formerly Twitter, referring to Thursday’s attack.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said the bloc also “strongly condemns the attack”.

“It is Israel’s responsibility to ensure the safety of humanitarian workers. UNRWA is an irreplaceable lifeline to millions in Gaza and the region,” he said in a post on X.

Also on X, French diplomat Catherine Colonna called for the headquarters to be protected following the “unjustifiable violence” and said that the UNRWA “must be able to carry out its mission”.

Site closed

UNRWA chief Philippe Lazzarini announced Thursday the temporary closure of the site after Israelis set fire to its perimeter in the latest in a series of attacks.

While there were no casualties, he said the blaze caused extensive damage to the outdoor area.

It came after two months of protests by “Israeli extremists” outside the compound, with one earlier this week turning violent when demonstrators threw stones, he said.

A spokesperson for UNRWA, Juliette Touma, told AFP on Friday that the site remains “closed until proper security is restored” and said it was unknown how long that would take.

UNRWA, which coordinates nearly all aid to Gaza, has been in crisis since January, when Israel accused about a dozen of its 13,000 Gaza employees of being involved in the October attack.

That led many nations, including top donor the United States, to abruptly suspend funding to the agency, threatening its efforts to deliver aid in Gaza, although several have since resumed payments.

An independent review of UNRWA, led by French former foreign minister Colonna, found some “neutrality-related issues” but said Israel had yet to provide evidence for its leading allegations.

With AFP