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Food Is Not A Weapon: Jewish Groups Congratulate Winston Peters For Re-committing To Lifesaving Aid

“Alternative Jewish Voices and Dayenu congratulate Foreign Minister Peters for maintaining NZ’s funding to UNRWA for humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza. In the midst of a humanitarian catastrophe, we cannot abandon people who are being starved. In the wake of the recent Israeli attack on the UNRWA school in Nuseirat refugee camp, New Zealand should increase its support of UNRWA.” says Justine Sachs, co-founder of Dayenu and a member of Alternative Jewish Voices (AJV).

“UNRWA provides vital aid to the besieged population of Gaza. No other agency can replicate their logistics and infrastructure. Their ongoing operations are critical to saving lives in the humanitarian emergency in Gaza. UNRWA employs over 13,000 people in Gaza. New Zealand suspended its donations to UNRWA after Israel made unsubstantiated allegations about a few UNRWA employees. The Israeli government was unable to provide any evidence to an independent investigation, which has since cleared UNRWA of wrongdoing.” says Sachs.

“The International Court of Justice recently ruled that continuing the ongoing Rafah offensive would constitute a violation of the Palestinians' right for safety and therefore must cease immediately. The Court has also determined that Israel must ensure the delivery of basic services and essential humanitarian aid to civilians in Gaza. Suspending funding to UNRWA could make states complicit in Israeli war crimes. New Zealand claims to have a principled foreign policy. On principle, we need to act against genocide and help save lives.” says Justine Sachs.

Background information supporting this media release

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Alternative Jewish Voices is a collective of non-Zionist Jews. Dayenu is a group of New Zealand Jews opposed to racism and the illegal occupation of Palestinian land. AJV and Dayenu are in the process of merging. More information can be found at https://ajv.org.nz/ and https://www.instagram.com/dayenunz/

The United Nations Refugee and Words Agency (UNRWA) is mandated to serve Palestinian refugees in Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan until there is a just solution to their dispossession. By funding UNRWA, donor states refuse to normalise that dispossession.

In blockaded Gaza, UNRWA provides health, education, housing and services to 1.7 million refugees, 70% of the population. It is also a critical provider of employment, liquidity, population records, and essential humanitarian aid. It is especially vital in emergencies. No other agency has a fraction of UNRWA’s skilled staff, logistics or infrastructure for shelter and distribution – whatever fraction of that capacity remains intact.

The Colonna report was not provided with any evidence to verify Israel’s unsubstantiated allegations that a small number of UNRWA staff somehow supported Hamas’s actions on 7 October.

UNRWA is entirely dependent on voluntary funding. It is not funded through UN contributions. National voluntary contributions were committed some time ago. Budgets and plans have been made on the assumption that those promises would be kept. Winston Peter’s announcement was made on the platform formerly known as Twitter.

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