A view of a damaged UN vehicle in front of a hospital

A view of a damaged U.N. vehicle in front of a hospital as a United Nations employee was killed in an attack on a vehicle in the Gaza Strip, according to Israeli media, in Gaza on May 13, 2024.

(Photo: Ali Jadallah/Anadolu via Getty Images)

UN Secretary-General Calls for Probe After Staffer Killed in Gaza

One U.N. staff member was killed and another was injured after an attack on their "clearly marked" vehicle.

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres on Monday reiterated his demand for a cease-fire in Gaza as he called for a full investigation into an attack on a "clearly marked" U.N. vehicle which killed one staff member and injured another in Rafah.

The U.N. did not identify the victims, but said the staff member who was killed worked for the U.N. Department of Safety and Security (DSS) and was the body's first international worker to be killed in Gaza since Israel began bombarding the enclave in October.

"The secretary-general condemns all attacks on U.N. personnel and calls for a full investigation," said Farhan Haq, deputy spokesperson for Guterres. "He sends his condolences to the family of the fallen staff member. With the conflict in Gaza continuing to take a heavy toll—not only on civilians, but also on humanitarian workers—the secretary-general reiterates his urgent appeal for an immediate humanitarian cease-fire and for the release of all hostages."

Approximately 190 U.N. workers have been killed in Gaza since Israel began its attack. Until Monday all had been Palestinian nationals and most had worked for the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), which has provided aid and public services to Gaza since 1948 and is a top employer in the enclave.

"Humanitarian workers must be protected," said Guterres on social media.

The DSS employees had been traveling to European Hospital in Rafah, where about 1 million Palestinians have been forcibly displaced since October. About 300,000 people have fled the city in the past week amid Israel's long-feared invasion.

The attack on the U.N. vehicle comes weeks after Israel struck another clearly marked humanitarian convoy, killing seven international aid workers with the U.S. group World Central Kitchen.

Israel has also attacked humanitarian aid operations, firing on civilians who gathered around a convoy to get food as starvation took hold of the enclave due to the Israeli blockade on nearly all relief deliveries, and killing at least one U.N. worker at a food distribution center in Rafah in March.

Israel and its defenders in the Biden administration have repeatedly claimed the Israel Defense Forces are taking steps to prevent civilian deaths, even as the death toll has surged past 35,000. In October, as the IDF began its assault in retaliation for a Hamas-led attack, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said publicly that he had "released all the restraints" on the military.

Author and Middle East policy expert Assal Rad asserted Monday that "you don't kill 190 U.N. staff, repeatedly kill aid workers in clearly marked vehicles, kill an unprecedented number of journalists, doctors, and medics, tens of thousands of civilians, and more than 14,000 children on 'accident.'"

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