UN Staff in Gaza Begin Two-Day Strike to Protest Firings

(Bloomberg) -- Gaza-based staff of the United Nations agency serving Palestinian refugees began a two-day strike Tuesday to protest the decision to fire workers and cut some programs due to a shortage of funding.

Yousef Hamdouna, secretary general of the staff union at the UN Relief and Works Agency, said the strike was called to protest “the reduction of the international funding of the agency and the risk of ending its services.”

The U.S. historically has been the main donor to UNRWA, but President Donald Trump cut American funding to the agency earlier this year, claiming the organization serves to perpetuate the Palestinian refugee issue rather than resolve it.

The number of registered Palestinian refugees has soared from some 750,000 in the wake of the 1948 Middle East War to some 5 million today, as UNRWA automatically passes refugee status from generation to generation, regardless of whether the original refugees have already resettled.

The UNRWA funding cut is among a number of steps that have led Palestinians to accuse the Trump administration of pro-Israel bias. Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital last December -- after which Palestinian Authority broke off contact with U.S. officials -- and recently closed the Palestine Liberation Organization office in Washington, charging the group wasn’t seriously pursuing peace with Israel.

The administration say it is still planning to present a peace plan in coming months, despite the collapse of its relations with the Palestinians.

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