Occupied East Jerusalem - A fresh arson attempt was made late Monday on the headquarters of the UN agency for Palestine refugees UNRWA in occupied Jerusalem, the second incident in five days, the agency’s chief said.

This time it was an “arson attempt by Israeli children and young people on UNRWA”, Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini said in a social media post on Tuesday.

“This has got to stop,” he said.

Last Thursday evening, Mr. Lazzarini said Israeli residents had set fire twice to the perimeter of the UNRWA headquarters when staff from several UN agencies were in the compound.

“While there were no casualties among our staff, the fire caused extensive damage to the outdoor areas,” he said at the time, noting that UNRWA headquarters has on its grounds a petrol and diesel station for the agency’s fleet of cars.

The UNRWA chief said that during last week’s incident a crowd “accompanied by armed men were witnessed outside the compound chanting “burn down the United Nations”, and that the office director and other staff had helped to extinguish the fire, as Israeli authorities took “a while before they turned up”.

‘New dangerous standard’

On Monday, displaced families returned to Khan Younis to seek shelter and safety in UNRWA schools, but found torched classrooms, blown out walls and rubble, according to the UN agency.

Meanwhile, the UNRWA chief noted that over the past two months, Israeli extremists have been staging protests outside the UNRWA compound in East Jerusalem, called into action by an elected member of the Jerusalem municipality. Last week, the protest became violent when demonstrators threw stones at UN staff and at the buildings of the compound.

He said UN staff have regularly been subjected to harassment and intimidation, the compound has been seriously vandalised and damaged and, on several occasions, “Israeli extremists threatened staff with guns”.

“It is the responsibility of the State of Israel as an occupying power to ensure that United Nations personnel and facilities are protected at all times,” he said via social media following last week’s arson attempt.

“The perpetrators of these attacks must be investigated and those responsible must be held accountable. Anything less will set a new dangerous standard.”

Gaza: UN investigates killing of Indian staff member

The UN has launched an investigation into the recent killing of an Indian staff member in Rafah, in southern Gaza, amid ongoing Israeli military strikes during the seven-month-long conflict, the Organization’s deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq said on Tuesday.

A UN vehicle was driving to the European Hospital in Rafah on Monday when deadly shots were fired, killing one UN international staff member and injuring another. Mr. Haq said “there’s regular work that’s going on in terms of bringing people to different sites, and this was part of that”.

“We are in discussion with Israel to determine exactly how this incident happened and the nature of what happened,” Mr. Haq said. “I don’t think at this stage we are in doubt about where the shots came from as much as what the circumstances were. We believe it came from a tank in the area.”

UN’s ‘first international casualty’ in Gaza

“What we know so far indicates that a weapon appears to have impacted the back of a white UN vehicle, carrying two UN staff members, killing one and injuring another,” he explained.

The deceased staff member has been identified as Waibhav Anil Kale, a former military officer from India, and the injured staff member was a Jordanian woman, who is receiving medical attention, Mr. Haq said, expressing the UN Secretary-General’s condolences.

Mr. Kale “is the first international casualty” in Gaza, the deputy spokesperson said, adding that there are currently 71 international UN staff members in the besieged enclave.

“It’s very early in the investigation, and details of the incident are still being verified with the Israeli Defense Forces,” he added.