UNRWA Investigates Employees Tied To October 7 Attack
The UN agency for Palestinian refugees says it has broken relations with some staff members and launched an inquiry into people whom Israel claims were engaged in the October 7 assaults. Commissioner-general of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East Philippe Lazzarini stated, “The Israeli authorities have provided UNRWA with information about the alleged involvement of several UNRWA employees in the horrific attacks on Israel on October 7.”
It has decided to swiftly terminate staff members’ contracts and immediately begin an investigation to uncover the truth in order to safeguard the agency’s capacity to provide humanitarian assistance.” The number of personnel and the nature of their suspected involvement in the assaults were not disclosed by Lazzarini. But he promised that “any UNRWA employee who was involved in acts of terror” will face consequences, including legal action. Antonio Guterres, the UN Secretary-General, was “horrified by this news,” according to Stéphane Dujarric, his spokeswoman. The UN head, he said, had instructed Lazzarini to look into the matter in order to guarantee that any UNRWA staff member found to have encouraged the October 7 attacks would be fired and their case for possible criminal prosecution forwarded.
The claims, which the US Department of State claimed concerned 12 UNRWA workers, disturbed it. It stated that until the accusations were resolved, it would not provide the organization any further funds. Spokesman Matthew Miller stated, “While we review these allegations and the steps the United Nations is taking to address them, the Department of State has temporarily paused additional funding for UNRWA.”
The 27-member bloc will “assess further steps and draw lessons based on the result of the full and comprehensive investigation,” according to a statement issued by European Union foreign policy head Josep Borrell. UNRWA, whose primary funding sources in 2022 were the US, Germany, and the EU, has stated time and time again that it is in danger of losing its ability to provide humanitarian help to Gaza residents.
The organization was founded in 1949 in the wake of the first Arab-Israeli conflict. It offers Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon humanitarian help as well as basic healthcare and educational services. While some donor nations have insisted on funding UNRWA going forward, others have pleaded with donors to start working with UNRWA again. “Carry out their role in supporting the humanitarian tasks toward Palestinian refugees,” is how Saudi Arabia asked those who support the organization. Lebanon referred to the funding suspension as a “historic mistake,” while Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani, the prime minister of Qatar, stated that UNRWA shouldn’t be penalized for allegations made against specific employees.
According to UNRWA, it has helped Gaza’s impoverished citizens and accommodated those escaping Israeli bombardment using its facilities. Despite requests for safe routes to transport supplies and support, Israeli rockets have also routinely targeted the agency’s shelters throughout the conflict.
The accusations have exacerbated the long-standing hostilities between UNRWA and Israel. Israel claims that Hamas stores weapons and launches attacks out of the agency’s premises. According to UNRWA, it does not intentionally permit such conduct and has internal controls in place to stop abuses and deal with misbehavior. Lazzarini had said that he was putting an external examination of the agency’s procedures and security measures in place even before the most recent accusations. Israel Katz, the foreign minister of Israel, announced that he had called for the resignation of UNRWA chief Lazzarini and canceled a meeting between Israeli officials and him.
For the 2.3 million Palestinians in Gaza who are suffering from a terrible humanitarian crisis as a result of the Israeli onslaught, UNRWA offers vital daily support. The organization stated that if financing was not restored, it would not be able to carry out operations in Gaza and throughout the region into the end of February. Over ten nations have stopped supporting the organization, including big contributors like the US, the UK, and Germany. The Palestine Red Crescent Society is one of the organizations that the British Red Cross is actively assisting in the Movement. UN Member States, as well as regional administrations and the European Union, generously fund UNRWA. When combined, these funding sources account for over 89.2 percent of all donations made to the Agency.