UNRWA Under Investigation for Alleged Hamas Ties

 

Pierre Krähenbühl, commissioner-general of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) at the UNRWA Rimal Girls Preparatory School in Gaza City, January 22, 2018. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

A report released on January 26 alleges that UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East) had 12 staff members aiding Hamas in the October 7 attacks against Israel, which led to the military campaign against Hamas in the Gaza Strip. This newfound evidence has resulted in the suspension of funding from 6 nations, including the United States. UNRWA was founded in 1949 by the U.N. General Assembly resolution, following the Arab-Israeli War, which surrounded Israel’s founding as an independent state; resulting in 700,000 Palestinians fleeing or being driven from their homes (Reuters).

According to a 6-page dossier shared with the U.S. by Israel, among the 21 personnel that participated in the attacks on October 7th, ten of these participants directly took part raiding Israeli territory, resulting in approximately 1,200 people killed and the capture of 240 hostages. Although Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (he/him, Likud) said that 13 UNRWA staff participated in the raid, the dossier said that Israel has wider evidence that UNRWA has hired 190 Hamas and Islamic Jihad militants. 

UNRWA’s chief, Philippe Lazzarini (he/him), made the statement, “it is shocking to see a suspension of funds to the agency in reaction to allegations against a small group of staff, especially given the immediate action that UNRWA took by terminating their contracts and asking for a transparent independent investigation.”  

UNWRA has been a subject of scrutiny for years. Israeli authorities have called for the agency’s dismantling, arguing the mission they once stated is “obsolete” and that it has incited anti-Israel bias and terrorism within the staff, schools, and its mission. UNRWA has strongly denied this characterization (The Times of Israel). The Trump administration has withdrawn funding from the agency, to which Netanyahu praised him and his team. Meanwhile President Joe Biden (he/him,D) restored funding to it, earning criticism.

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