Airstrike in Gaza Kills U.N. Worker and More Than 76 of His Relatives


A U.N. aid worker and more than 70 members of his extended family were killed on Friday near Gaza City, the same day that aid agencies sharply criticized the U.N. Security Council for passing a resolution that did not call for a full cease-fire in the besieged enclave.

An Israeli airstrike killed Issam Al Mughrabi, who had worked at the U.N. Development Program for 30 years, and his wife, his five children, and more than 70 members of his extended family, Achim Steiner, an administrator at the agency, said in a statement.

“The loss of Issam and his family has deeply affected us all,” he said. “The U.N. and civilians in Gaza are not a target.”

The Israeli military did not immediately comment on the report.

The strike that killed Mr. Al Mughrabi underscored the scope of Israel’s continuing bombardment of Gaza’s densely populated areas with heavy munitions, which U.N. officials have said is not only taking lives but making it nearly impossible to distribute aid.

The bombardment is killing civilians at a devastating pace, with the Gaza health ministry reporting about 20,000 people killed — a majority of them women and children — in the past 77 days of fighting. Bombings can often claim almost all of an extended family. Areas designated as safe for civilians have been routinely assailed by 2,000-pound bombs.

United Nations workers, too, have been killed in large numbers. At least 136 workers from UNRWA — the agency that cares for Palestinian refugees and employees around 13,000 people in Gaza — have been killed in the conflict so far. It’s the highest death toll recorded in the history of the United Nations.

On Saturday, the Palestinian Ministry of Health reported on Saturday morning that about 200 people had been killed and another 368 injured by Israeli military operations since Friday.

Senior U.N. officials and many aid agencies have argued that a full cease-fire is needed to allow the distribution of aid to nearly 1.9 million displaced Palestinians, many of whom face spreading disease, hunger and an overwhelmed health-care systems.

“The way Israel is conducting its offensive is creating massive obstacles to the distribution of humanitarian aid inside Gaza,” U.N. Secretary General António Guterres said in a post on social media on Friday.

The United States, standing with Israel, has opposed resolutions in the U.N. Security Council that called for a cease-fire, arguing they would allow Hamas, the armed group that controls Gaza, to regroup and launch future attacks, like the massacres on Oct. 7 in Israel that sparked the current war.

In the end, the resolution that passed on Friday, with the United States abstaining, called for “urgent extended humanitarian pauses and corridors” to allow for rescue and recovery efforts to safely proceed in Gaza, but it did not call for a full cease-fire, as many diplomats and agencies had hoped.

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