UN security staff killed in Gaza; Guterres calls for probe

May 13, 2024

A staff member of the United Nations Department of Safety and Security (DSS) died and another was injured when their UN vehicle was struck as they travelled to the European Hospital in Gaza’s city of Rafah on Monday.

Condemning all attacks on UN personnel, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for a full investigation, his deputy spokesperson, Farhan Aziz Haq, told reporters at the UN Headquarters in New York.

“With the conflict in Gaza continuing to take a heavy toll – not only on civilians, but also on humanitarian workers – the Secretary-General reiterates his urgent appeal for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire and for the release of all hostages,” he said.

Questioned by journalists, Farhan Haq said that the UN was still gathering information on the incident. He later confirmed that the security personnel killed was an international staff member, marking the first such UN death in the Gaza conflict. His nationality was not immediately disclosed.

Earlier on Monday, UN Palestine refugee agency UNRWA reported that another of its staff members had been killed, bringing the total number to 189.

The 53-year-old senior projects officer was believed to have died in an Israeli strike in the central town of Deir Al Balah, after leaving Rafah.

In Washington, US Army Major Harrison Mann, who works for the Defence Intelligence Agency, has announced his resignation, which he submitted on April 16, saying he “cannot justify staying silent any longer”.

In his letter, which he published on his public LinkedIn profile, Mann, who says he is a descendant of European Jews, wrote that the US’ “nearly unqualified support for the government of Israel … has enabled and empowered the killing and starvation of tens of thousands of innocent Palestinians”.

“As we were recently reminded, this unconditional support also encourages reckless escalation that risks wider war.”

The Biden administration is facing growing internal dissent against its policies in the Middle East, most recently marked by the resignation of US Department of State Arabic language spokeswoman, Hala Rharrit.

Ms. Rharrit is the first career diplomat to resign publicly, protesting the government’s response to Israel’s war on Gaza.

Josh Paul is the highest ranking Biden administration official to resign over its approach to the war in Gaza, and Tariq Habash, a policy adviser at the US Department of Education, also resigned from his post in recent weeks.