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Israeli strikes kill UN official, and 70 of his extended family members in Gaza

Palestinian employees of United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) take part in a protest in Gaza City. (Photo by Reuters)

A United Nations official has been killed along with more than 70 members of his extended family in an Israeli airstrike near Gaza City, as the world body condemned a series of mass massacres and successive crimes committed by the Israeli crimes in the besieged territory.

Issam Al Mughrabi, 56, who worked for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for three decades was killed along with his wife and children in an Israeli airstrike on Friday.

UNDP administrator Achim Steiner on Sunday criticized the Israeli regime for targeting civilians and UN staff in the besieged strip.

“For almost 30 years, Issam has worked with UNDP through our Programme of Assistance to the Palestinian People,” Steiner said in a statement on Sunday.

“The loss of Issam and his family has deeply affected us all. The UN and civilians in Gaza are not a target.”

Offering his condolences to Issam’s family and colleagues, the World Health Organization’s chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus also stressed in a post on X that “humanitarians should never be victims” and called for a ceasefire.

Since Israel’s war on Gaza began on October 7, 136 staff members of the UN have been killed.

The death of the veteran UN staff member and his family members comes as hundreds of people have been killed in intensified Israeli bombardment since Friday.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres recently said that throughout the world body’s history, they had never witnessed the death of their staff in such large numbers.

“Most of our staff have been forced from their homes,” he added in a post on X, paying tribute to UN members working in Gaza.

UNRWA director Thomas White shared similar concerns and highlighted that conditions on the ground for aid workers should be secure, for aid deliveries to be carried out.

“We need a ceasefire that will stop the killing of civilians and destruction of civilian infrastructure in Gaza,” he said.

Israel keeps pounding the besieged Gaza Strip, where every new airstrike and shelling further worsens the humanitarian situation.

There has been a mass burial for the Palestinians killed during Israeli strikes in the city of Jabalia north of Gaza City.

After regime forces withdrew from Jabalia, rescuers recovered the dead bodies and buried them in an improvised cemetery.

The Palestinian health ministry says dozens of Palestinians were killed this week and some were publicly executed during an Israeli military offensive.

The Israeli aerial and tank bombardment of Jabalia left dozens of people dead or wounded.

The US-Israeli genocidal war claims more Palestinian civilian lives in the Gaza Strip, as the death toll since October 7 tops 20,400, most of them women and children.

 Pressure mounts on Netanyahu

Pressure mounts on Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu as more of his troops and captives are killed in the wake of the indiscriminate bombing of Gaza.

Netanyahu says the Gaza war has exacted a “very heavy price” on the regime.

Netanyahu said Israel has no choice but to keep fighting to achieve its goals, including the elimination of Hamas and the return of its captives. 

He made the comments after the Israeli army confirmed that 15 troops were killed in Gaza since Friday.

At least 153 Israeli troops have been killed and nearly 500 others wounded since the beginning of Israel’s ground invasion in Gaza. The Palestinian resistance movement Hamas says the number of Israeli army casualties is much higher.

Despite mounting international calls for a ceasefire, Israel has vowed to keep up the aggression.

The administration of US President Joe Biden has shielded Israel in the diplomatic arena.

On Friday, the UN Security Council adopted a watered-down resolution that calls for immediately speeding up aid deliveries to desperate civilians in Gaza, but not for a ceasefire. The UN Security Council resolution has been criticized as “woefully insufficient.”

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