United Nations agency in charge of Gaza relief to investigate claims that some of its employees took part in Oct. 7 attack
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which focuses in providing aid for Palestinian refugees, has launched an investigation into claims that some of its employees were involved in Hamas’ murderous Oct. 7 attack on Israel.
“The Israeli authorities have provided [our agency] with information about the alleged involvement of several UNRWA employees in the horrific attacks on Israel on Oct. 7,” said UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini. “To protect the agency’s ability to deliver humanitarian assistance, I have taken the decision to immediately terminate the contracts of these staff members and launch an investigation in order to establish the truth without delay.”
Lazzarini did not disclose the number of employees allegedly involved in the attacks, nor the nature of their alleged involvement. He said, however, that “any UNRWA employee who was involved in acts of terror” would be held accountable, including through criminal prosecution.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has been briefed about the allegations, according to his spokesman Stephane Dujarric, adding that the top UN official “is horrified by this news.”
As per Dujarric, UN secretary-general asked Lazzarini to conduct a probe regarding the matter. Guterres stressed that any UNRWA employee found to have participated in or abetted the Oct. 7 attacks must be terminated immediately and referred for potential criminal prosecution.
“We are extremely concerned by allegations of UNRWA staff involvement in the Oct. 7 terrorist attacks in Israel. The EU reiterates its strongest condemnation of the attacks by the Hamas terrorists against Israel, which have no justification,” said Josep Borrell, the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, in a statement.
“UNRWA has been playing a vital role over many years supporting vulnerable Palestinian refugees in accessing vital services such as education and health, and is a crucial partner of the international community, including the EU. We are in contact with UNRWA, expect it to provide full transparency on the allegations and to take immediate measures against staff involved. The [European] Commission will assess further steps and draw lessons based on the result of the full and comprehensive investigation.”
U.S. State Department stops funding UNRWA
Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of State said it was extremely troubled by the allegations – which reportedly involved 12 UNRWA employees who allegedly participated in Hamas’ massacre. A statement from the department said U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Guterres on Jan. 25 “to emphasize the necessity of a thorough and swift investigation of this matter.”
“The [department] has temporarily paused additional funding for UNRWA while we review these allegations and the steps the UN is taking to address them,” State Department spokesman Matthew Miller later remarked.
UNRWA has repeatedly said its capacity to render humanitarian assistance to people in the Gaza Strip is on the verge of collapse. The U.S., the EU and Germany were its biggest donors in 2022.
Gilad Erdan, Israel’s ambassador to the UN, also commented on the allegations.
“How symbolic it is that on the International Holocaust Remembrance Day, what we’ve been claiming for years – that UNRWA employees are cooperating with the Hamas terrorist organization and that the UN has become a place where Israel is de-legitimized – has been proven true,” he said.
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Watch this clip from One America News featuring an investigative journalist’s expose about the UNRWA years before its collusion with Hamas.
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