Unrwa closes East Jerusalem compound after attacks

A truck, marked with United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) logo
Unrwa says its East Jerusalem headquarters will remain closed until security is restored [Reuters]

The head of the UN's largest aid agency in Gaza says he is temporarily closing its headquarters in occupied East Jerusalem after a number of attacks.

Philippe Lazzarini said "Israeli residents" twice set fire to the compound's perimeter on Thursday evening.

There were no casualties but the fire "caused extensive damage to the outdoor areas," he wrote on social media.

"Once again, the lives of UN staff were at a serious risk."

"Our director with the help of other staff had to put out the fire themselves as it took the Israeli fire extinguishers and police a while before they turned up," he added.

There was no immediate response from the Israeli authorities.

Mr Lazzarini also posted a video of what he said was a "crowd accompanied by armed men" who were chanting "burn down the United Nations". This video has not been verified by the BBC.

He said it was the second time this week the compound has come under attack, and it would not be reopened until "proper security is restored".

Also this week, Unrwa said that it had reported 10 incidents involving shooting at convoys and bullying and harassment of UN staff in a two-week period.

Israel has been highly critical of Unrwa, accusing some of its staff members of involvement in the 7 October Hamas attacks.

The allegations led several international donors to temporarily halt their funding, although some have now resumed aid payments.

An independent UN review later ruled that Israel was yet to provide "supporting evidence" for this claim.

It also found Unrwa needed to do more to improve its neutrality, staff vetting and transparency.