UNRWA compound in East Jerusalem to be closed after alleged arson

The United Nations' agency for Palestinian refugees says it will close its headquarters in East Jerusalem until proper security is restored. The agency says Israeli residents set fire to the perimeter of the compound twice on Thursday.

Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, or UNRWA, made the announcement in a post on X, previously known as Twitter.

He said that while there were no casualties among the headquarters' staff, they had to put out the fire themselves as it took time for Israeli fire authorities to arrive at the scene. He added that the office has on its grounds a petrol and diesel station for the agency's fleet of cars.

Lazzarini also posted a video, which he said was from Israeli media, that shows a crowd accompanied by armed men chanting, "Burn down the United Nations," outside the compound amid rising smoke.

He said: "This is an outrageous development. Once again, the lives of UN staff were at a serious risk."

Lazzarini pointed out that the Israeli government is responsible for ensuring that UN personnel and facilities are protected at all times and called for investigation.