The United States is suspending funding for UNRWA, the United Nations agency for Palestine, in light of alleged staff involvement in the Hamas attacks of October 7.
UNRWA has reportedly terminated several employees and initiated an inquiry into information provided by Israel.
Antonio Guterres, secretary-general of the United Nations, described himself as “horrified” by this news and demanded an immediate investigation.
One thousand three hundred individuals, predominantly civilians, were killed by Hamas in the unprecedented assault.
Two hundred fifty additional individuals were held hostage. The retaliatory Israeli airstrikes against Hamas in Gaza have claimed the lives of over 26,000 Palestinians, according to the health ministry of Hamas-controlled Gaza.
The United States State Department expressed “extremely troubled” sentiments in its announcement. This was a temporary funding suspension in response to allegations that UN personnel were involved in the attacks.
Investigations and Allegations Against UNRWA
Philippe Lazzarini, the executive director of UNRWA, stated on Friday that Israel had furnished his organisation with “information regarding the purported complicity of multiple UNRWA personnel in the heinous assaults that occurred in Israel on October 7.”
He stated that UNRWA had initiated investigations into several employees and severed all ties with them.
According to an adviser to the Israeli prime minister, “individuals who are on their [UNRWA salaries] salaries” were implicated in the Hamas attacks of October 7.
According to Mark Regev, there was evidence that educators employed in UNRWA schools “openly celebrated” the October 7 assaults.
In addition, he mentioned an Israeli detainee who, upon her release, disclosed that she had been “confined within the residence of a UNRWA employee.”
He added, “They have a union that is controlled by Hamas, and I believe it is time for the United Nations to investigate these ties between UNRWA and Hamas.”
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he had asked Mr. Lazzarini to investigate “immediately”.
International Response and UNRWA Operations
He added that UNRWA employees “found to have assisted or conspired” in the October 7 incident must be fired. They should be referred for possible criminal prosecution, as determined by the investigation.
The United States approved Mr. Guterres’s request for a “thorough and prompt investigation.”
The EU added that it was “extremely concerned” by the allegations and that, pending the exhaustive investigation. It would determine whether to take additional action.
The European Union, Germany, and the United States are among UNRWA’s largest donors.
The organisation provides humanitarian aid, healthcare, and education to Palestinians residing in Syria, Lebanon, Gaza, and the West Bank.
It reports, however, that it cannot deliver humanitarian aid to a significant portion of the estimated 1.7 million displaced after 12 weeks of fighting—nearly three-quarters of the population.
Several Israeli airstrikes have targeted several United Nations facilities that had provided refuge to Gazanos.
Twelve individuals were slain on Thursday when a United Nations shelter in Khan Younis, southern Gaza, was struck.