Two Palestinian employees of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) were shot dead in the Gaza Strip and the agency said on Wednesday it was suspending most of its operations due to the internal fighting.
UNRWA spokesman Christopher Gunness said one of the employees was shot in the abdomen on Tuesday and died on Wednesday. The other employee was shot in the head on Wednesday.
Gunness said they are the first UN employees killed in Gaza since internal fighting erupted between Hamas Islamists and President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah faction last year.
Gunness said they appeared to have been caught in the crossfire and not targeted because of their work for the UN Agency, which provides services to Palestinian refugees.
“In view of increased threats to our staff, UNRWA has no choice but to scale back its operations in Gaza with immediate effect,” Gunness said. He said the agency was temporarily suspending all but emergency medical and food programs.
Security headquarters bombed
In the meantime, Hamas Islamists killed at least 9 fighters loyal to Abbas and blew up a security headquarters on Wednesday.
An aide to Abbas said an additional 13 people were killed in the explosion at the Preventive Security building in the town of Khan Younis.
The aide and local residents said Hamas, which pounded the facility with grenades and mortar bombs, was responsible for the blast.
Local residents reported people trapped in the rubble. Hospital officials said two bodies were brought in shortly after the explosion. Hamas had no immediate comment.