In a significant escalation of tensions, the Israeli government has ordered the expropriation of land occupied by UNRVA offices in East Jerusalem and banned entry to special rapporteur Francesca Albanese. The move came after Albanese made comments about the attack on Gaza that Israeli authorities deemed “anti-Semitic.”
Israeli Housing Minister Yitzhak Goldnopf issued the order for Israel Land Authority (ILA) Director General Yaakov Quint to immediately put an end to all agreements signed between the ILA and UNRVA. This would affect UNRVA’s offices in Maalot Dafna and Kafr Aqab, which are located in East Jerusalem. The measure is part of an effort to remove UNRVA from all territories leased to Israel.
Goldknopf defended his decision, stating that UNRVA had acted in service of Hamas, a terrorist group that rules Gaza, and had even participated in the brutal massacre on October 7th. He added that his intention was to put an end to this collaboration and get them out of Israel.
Israeli authorities have intensified their criticism of UNRVA after it was reported that some of its staff were under investigation for collaborating with Hamas in attacks launched on Israeli territory in early October. These attacks led to the current war. Francesca Albanese, an independent expert appointed by the United Nations, criticized statements made by French President Emmanuel Macron last week, who described the Hamas attack on Israel as “the biggest anti-Semitic massacre of our century.”
In response, Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz and Interior Minister Moshe Arbel described these comments as “scandalous” and announced that she was banned from entering Israel. Albanese responded on social media, stating that he has been barred from entry to Israel since 2008 due to her work as a special rapporteur on the Palestinian territories. He emphasized that this ban should not distract from Israel’s crimes in Gaza, which are reaching new levels each day.