9 UN staffers killed in airstrikes in Gaza

9 UN staffers killed in airstrikes in Gaza

Nine United Nations staff members have been killed by Israeli airstrikes in Gaza since Saturday, the UN’s agency for Palestinian refugees confirmed Wednesday.

The U.N. Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) said nine staffers have been killed in airstrikes since the start of Israel’s counterattack on Gaza, with several of the staff members killed late Tuesday.

“The protection of civilians is paramount, including in times of conflict,” Juliette Touma, UNRWA director of communications, told The Associated Press. “They should be protected in accordance with the laws of war.”

The strikes are part of an aggressive counteroffensive by the Israeli military, after the Palestinian militant group Hamas sent a barrage of rocket strikes and militants into the country Saturday in a surprise attack, leaving behind horrific scenes of brutalized villages along the border.

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared war and said the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) would “operate forcefully everywhere.”

By Wednesday, several neighborhoods in the Gaza Strip had been demolished after the Israeli military pounded the area with air strikes.

Touma told the AP the U.N. staff members were killed in their homes across the Gaza Strip. She said the UNRWA headquarters in Gaza City and many schools-turned-shelters were damaged as well.

The U.N. Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem and Israel, said Tuesday that clear evidence has emerged showing war crimes being committed on both sides of the conflict.

“The Commission is gravely concerned with Israel’s latest attack on Gaza and Israel’s announcement of a complete siege on Gaza involving the withholding of water, food, electricity and fuel which will undoubtfully cost civilian lives and constitutes collective punishment,” it said in a press release.

In an address Tuesday, President Biden condemned the terrorist attacks by the Hamas, vowing support for Israel. He confirmed Americans are among the many people being held hostage by the Hamas. As many as 20 Americans remain unaccounted for.

The White House confirmed that more than a dozen American citizens have been killed in the fighting so far.

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