UNRWA Says There Is ‘No Evidence’ That Pairs Gaza Aid Workers With Hamas

Last month, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) revealed that it was investigating allegations against employees being involved in Hamas’ on-the-ground massacre of Israeli civilians on October 7.

The allegations were spelt out in an Israeli intelligence document and also accused more than 180 of the UNRWA’s 13,000 employees were affiliated with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad or Hamas – the proscribed terrorist group that has governed Gaza since 2007.

Along with the document, which was shared with media outlets three days later, the Israeli Defence Forces claimed to have found a UNRWA membership card alongside a suicide vest, a Hamas military kit and Kalashnikov rifles during a raid.

Channel 4 News has since refuted the accusations against the aid workers, claiming that the six-page dossier contained “no evidence to support its explosive new claim that UNRWA staff were involved in the terror attacks on Israel”.

“Intelligence information, documents and identity cards seized during the course of the fighting, it is now possible to flag around 190 Hamas and PIJ terrorist operatives who serve as UNRWA employees. More than 10 UNRWA staffers took part in the events of 07/10,” the dossier reported.

Documents published by Sky News have also exposed inconsistencies in Israel’s accusations, considering the report named six aid workers instead of 12 who were allegedly involved in the attacks.

According to Channel 4 New, in regard to the sacking, UNRWA Director of Communications Juliette Touma said that staff were sacked because of the seriousness of the accusations and as an effort to protect the agency’s reputation.

In a bid to minimise the impact of Israel’s allegations on the humanitarian support in Gaza, UNRWA also fired the accused employees – Touma added.

In a statement on Thursday, the UNRWA responded to Israel’s allegations against 10 per cent of the aid workers being affiliated with terror groups, saying: “Israel has not provided evidence in writing to the UN to substantiate its allegations.”

“While UNRWA is accustomed to working amid financial uncertainty, the January developments create a new level of peril. Unless donors resume funding quickly and in full, the agency says, it could run out of resources by the end of February,” the statement continued.

After announcing its investigation, the United Nations criticised countries, including the UK and the US for refusing to fund its top aid agency operating in the besieged enclave.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that he was “horrified by the news”, which paired the UNRWA workers to a series of kidnappings and killings.

The supporting nations who have also withdrawn from funding the UNRWA include Japan, Austria, Canada, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Finland, Romania, Estonia and Australia.

Guterres has since warned of the catastrophic situation in Gaza worsening, noting that “no other organisation has a meaningful presence inside Gaza – and nothing compared with this situation”.

In four months, Israel’s bombardment of the besieged enclave has killed more than more than 28,300 Palestinians, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza.

At least 67,459 people have been injured, including more than 8,600 children – the Health Ministry said.

“The costs with UNRWA are much lower than the costs with other agencies for historical reasons. The salaries paid by UNRWA are one-third of the salaries paid by UNICEF or WFP or other UN organisations,” the UN Secretary-General added.

On Monday, Guterres said that the independent investigation into the aid workers is ongoing. The private panel has been created to “assess whether the agency is doing everything within its power to ensure neutrality and to respond to allegations of serious breaches when they are made”, he clarified.

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