US pauses UNRWA funding over claims of staff involvement in Hamas attack
US pauses funding for UNRWA over allegations of staff involvement in Hamas attacks, UNRWA says it's investigating. UN calls for swift probe.
The United States has decided to pause funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinians (UNRWA) due to allegations of staff involvement in the Hamas attacks on October 7th. UNRWA has responded by firing several employees and launching an investigation based on information provided by Israel. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has expressed horror at the news and has called for a swift investigation into the matter.
The Hamas attacks on October 7th resulted in the deaths of 1,300 people, mostly civilians, and the taking of 250 people hostage. These events led to Israel's retaliatory attacks on Hamas in Gaza, resulting in the deaths of more than 26,000 Palestinians, according to the Hamas-run health ministry in the territory.
The US State Department has expressed extreme concern over the allegations of UN staff involvement in the attacks and has decided to temporarily halt funding to UNRWA. Philippe Lazzarini, the head of UNRWA, has stated that the organization has placed a number of employees under investigation and has severed ties with them based on the information provided by Israel.
An adviser to the Israeli prime minister has claimed that the 7 October Hamas attacks involved people who are on the salaries of UNRWA. He also mentioned that there is evidence showing teachers working in UNRWA schools openly celebrated the attacks.
UN Secretary-General Guterres has called for a swift investigation into the matter and emphasized the need to ensure that any UNRWA employee found to have participated or abetted in the 7 October attack is sacked and referred for potential criminal prosecution. The United States and the European Union have welcomed this call for a thorough and swift investigation.
UNRWA is a major provider of education, healthcare, and humanitarian aid to Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon. However, the agency is facing challenges in providing humanitarian aid to the estimated 1.7 million people - nearly three-quarters of the population - displaced by 12 weeks of fighting. Several UN facilities where Gazans had taken shelter have been hit in Israeli air strikes, resulting in the deaths of innocent civilians.
The allegations of UN staff involvement in the Hamas attacks have raised serious concerns among major donors such as the US, Germany, and the EU. They have emphasized the need for a full and comprehensive investigation into the matter before making further decisions regarding funding for UNRWA.