UN Response to Crisis in the Middle East

What We Know

On Oct. 7, Hamas terrorists launched a terrorist attack against Israel, targeting civilians and Israeli Defense Forces, and killing more than 1,400 individuals. In response, Israel undertook an offensive against Hamas, primarily in Gaza, with increased military activity in the West Bank and along the northern border with Lebanon. As of Dec. 3, more than 15,300 people were reportedly killed in Gaza since the conflict began, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. Palestinian health officials have also said, however, that they are unable to accurately count the dead because of the collapse of the territory’s health system and difficulty of retrieving bodies.

Latest News and Insight

Articles below are curated from a range of news outlets and perspectives, and do not necessarily represent the views of the Better World Campaign, nor serve as an endorsement of the opinions therein. Our intent is to share a diversity of information to offer context in this evolving situation. News is updated as major developments occur. 
Updated 12/3 at 9:00 am
  • Fighting in Gaza resumed on Friday when the last extension of the truce expired and hopes in attempts to renew it again faded. Israel withdrew its team of negotiators from Qatar after talks to renew the truce with Hamas collapsed. A senior Hamas official said no more hostages would be freed in a prisoner exchange until there is a ceasefire, while rockets continued to be fired into Israel’s south.
  • Two Hamas gunmen killed three people at a Jerusalem bus stop during morning rush hour on Thursday, and Israel reiterated its commitment to wiping out the Palestinian Islamist faction. The attackers, Palestinians from East Jerusalem, were shot dead by off-duty soldiers and an armed civilian, police said. At least eight people were also wounded in the shooting.
  • The UN on Wednesday called for the international community to move towards a two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, saying Jerusalem should serve as the capital of both states. “It is long past time to move in a determined, irreversible way towards a two-state solution, on the basis of United Nations resolutions and international law,” said Tatiana Valovaya, Director-General of the UN office in Geneva, delivering a speech authored by UN Secretary General Guterres.
Selected Prior Updates
  • The Israeli military has urged civilians who fled to southern Gaza not to return home, and warned that the IDF is preparing for the next phase of the war once the pause ends.
  • As of Nov. 22, the Committee to Protect Journalists’ preliminary investigations showed at least 53 journalists and media workers were among the more than 15,000 killed since the war began on Oct. 7. This is the deadliest month for journalists since CPJ began gathering data in 1992.
  • 104 UNRWA personnel have been killed in Gaza since fighting began, making it the deadliest conflict for UN staff in the history of the organization.
  • The UN launched a $1.2 billion humanitarian appeal to assist 2.7 million people in Gaza and an additional half million in the West Bank and Jerusalem. Funds will be used by OCHA and other UN agencies to immediate humanitarian needs. An original appeal on Oct. 12 sought $294 million to support nearly 1.3 million people.
  • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday, Nov. 19 that the Israeli Army was the only force that could take military responsibility for Gaza after the war and guarantee his country’s security, while stating that he saw no future administrative role there for the Western-backed Palestinian Authority.
Follow Trusted Updates from the UN

How the World is Responding

The United Nations has played a significant role in addressing the conflict between Israel and Palestine since the founding of the UN, and is deeply committed to a peaceful resolution to the conflict. Over the years, the UN has facilitated peace talks, provided humanitarian aid, and supported initiatives aimed at fostering understanding and reconciliation.

Today, 13 UN agencies work on the ground with dozens of international NGOs, Magen David Adom, the Palestinian Red Crescent Society, 35 national NGOs and thousands of volunteers and employees to deliver life-saving aid to the region.

Here are a few ways the UN and partners are working to meet the humanitarian needs of the moment.

  • UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA)

    UNRWA provides food, education, and healthcare to the people of Gaza and has more than 13,000 staff in the region. The agency operates a network of 140 primary healthcare centers that support nearly 10 million patient visits annually. In Gaza alone, UNRWA provides food assistance to 1.2 million refugees, representing 60% of the food imported into the Gaza Strip each month.

    Today, UNRWA is urgently seeking $104 million to enable its multi-sectoral humanitarian response over the coming 90 days. The requested funds will cover the urgent immediate food, non-food, health, shelter and protection needs of up to 250,000 people seeking safety in UNRWA shelters across Gaza.

    More information, including ways to donate to UNRWA’s emergency response, can be found here.

  • United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)

    The UNICEF response in Gaza focuses on the critical needs of children requiring protection and humanitarian assistance. Although humanitarian workers have been urged to move out of the area, UNICEF staff remain in southern Gaza to continue to provide support for children in need.

    Since the start of the conflict, UNICEF has distributed nearly all of its prepositioned supplies. Medical supplies and medicines have been provided to hospitals. However, hospital beds and essential medicine – including anesthetics – are quickly running out. UNICEF is working with partners to deliver additional supplies including medicines, water, tents, blankets and hygiene kits, ready to be distributed as soon as access is possible.

    Notably, while UNICEF rarely works directly in high-income countries such as Israel (which typically have more resources to respond to emergency needs), the organization often extends psychosocial support to children in extraordinary circumstances. They are now negotiating such an arrangement to operate in a limited capacity in Israel.

    More information, including ways to donate to UNICEF’s work in the region, can be found here.

  • World Food Programme (WFP)

    A sharp escalation of the conflict in and around Gaza and the West Bank mean that people are facing mounting challenges in accessing essential food supplies, with distribution networks disrupted and production severely hampered. WFP is responding with pre-positioned food for displaced people or those in shelters, where possible, while resuming regular food and cash-based transfer assistance to vulnerable populations. In total, WFP aims to reach 800,000 people with food and/or cash.

    More information, including ways to donate to WFP’s life-saving efforts, can be found here.

  • ICRC, Magen David Adom & Partners of the ICRC

    The International Committee of the Red Cross is a neutral, independent humanitarian organization that helps people harmed by armed conflict and disaster in conflict zones. Since the fighting, the group immediately offered help to both sides, and donated medical supplies to Gaza. Their teams are also working with Israel’s Magen David Adom and the Palestine Red Crescent Society.

    Magen David Adom is Israel’s national emergency medical, disaster, ambulance and blood bank service. Donations to the organization will be used to ensure responders and volunteers have the training, equipment and medical supplies (including blood) to treat injured people. Moreover, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that Bloomberg Philanthropies will match all donations to the organization.

  • International NGOs Working in the Region

    International Rescue Committee works in more than 40 countries and 28 U.S. cities to help people affected by humanitarian crises, in the short- and long-term. The IRC issued a statement condemning the toll of the violence across Israel and Gaza, and said it is “assessing needs on the ground and our capacity to ensure critical, life-saving humanitarian relief reaches affected civilian populations.”

    IsraAID is the largest humanitarian aid organization in Israel, and has responded to global disasters in over 50 countries. The group is now collecting donations through its Emergency Response Fund, and is helping local partners coordinate humanitarian activities in shelters housing evacuees from the Gaza border region, operate child-friendly spaces where kids can play and process, and train local mental health specialists on emergency-specific psychosocial support.

    The Jewish Agency for Israel is a global nonprofit dedicated to securing “a vibrant Jewish future.” Its Fund for Victims of Terror provides immediate financial assistance to victims and families. The group says it has disbursed hundreds of grants since the violence started, and they anticipate distributing more, as well as following up with long-term recovery and rehabilitative support.

    Middle East Children’s Alliance is a nonprofit dedicated to children’s rights in the Middle East, and supports dozens of community projects for Palestinian children. They are now procuring medical supplies for hospitals and providing emergency assistance to families who have fled their homes. Donations go to provide medical aid, clean water, food and psychological support.

    Palestine Children’s Relief Fund provides medical and humanitarian relief to Arab children, regardless of nationality or religion, and has had a presence in Gaza for more than 30 years. Donations go to medical care, mental health support and essential supplies for kids in Gaza.

    Save the Children has disbursed $1 million from its emergency fund to help teams respond to life-saving needs in both Israel and Gaza “when it is safe to do so.” The NGO says its teams and families are bracing for what’s next, knowing that children have “never emerged unscathed” — both in terms of their physical and mental health. Donations to its Children’s Emergency Fund go towards warm blankets, nutritious food, healthcare and other supports.

  • World Health Organization (WHO)

    The WHO established an official presence in Israel in 2019, adding to the existing office serving Gaza and the West Bank. The agency is now focused on facilitating immediate and safe delivery of health and humanitarian supplies in Gaza and along the border area with Egypt, including provision of supplies that serve patients with a range of injuries and conditions, like trauma medicines for 1,200 wounded patients and 1,500 patients. WHO also sources basic essential health supplies for 300,000 patients, including children and pregnant women.

    On October 9, WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus met with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, who agreed to a WHO request to facilitate the delivery of health and other humanitarian supplies from WHO to Gaza through the Rafah crossing. The WHO is working with the Egyptian and Palestinian Red Crescent Societies to ensure transportation and delivery of these supplies into Gaza, and continues to call for an immediate reopening of this crossing to enable safe delivery of other essential supplies that include water, food, and fuel.

  • UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)

    OCHA coordinates emergency response to save lives and protect people in humanitarian crises, advocating for effective and principled humanitarian action by all. Following the attack on Israel on October 7, OCHA launched a flash appeal calling for nearly $300 million for 77 humanitarian partners in the region to address the most urgent needs of 1,260,000 people in Gaza and the West Bank.

    More information, including ways to support the flash appeal, can be found here.

  • UN Peacekeeping Force In Lebanon (UNIFIL)

    Although UNIFIL does not play a direct role in Gaza, the peacekeeping mission is a critical partner in regional security. Established in 1978, the mission helps secure and monitor the border between Israel and Lebanon. During the Israel-Hezbollah War in 2006, the mandate of UNIFIL expanded to include military operations designed to mitigate cross-border attacks and protect civilian life in northern Israel and southern Lebanon, as well as facilitate conditions for provision of humanitarian supplies.

    Read more about the work of UNIFIL here.