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Thousands of displaced Palestinians are living in UNRWA shelters. (Photo: via KinderUSA)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff  

The report, commissioned by the United Nations in response to Israeli allegations, revealed that UNRWA regularly provided Israel with lists of its employees for screening. 

Israel has not yet provided sufficient evidence to support its claims that employees of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, were affiliated with the Palestinian Resistance movement Hamas, the Guardian reported, citing an independent review led by former French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna.

The report, commissioned by the United Nations in response to Israeli allegations, revealed that UNRWA regularly provided Israel with lists of its employees for screening. 

However, “the Israeli government has not informed UNRWA of any concerns relating to any UNRWA staff based on these staff lists since 2011,” according to the report.

Israeli accusations of UNRWA staff involvement in the October 7 operation carried out by Hamas prompted major donors to suspend funding to the agency in January. 

This decision strongly affected humanitarian aid to Palestinians in Gaza and refugee communities across the region.

“Most of the donor nations have resumed their funding in recent weeks. UK ministers had said they would wait for the Colonna report to make a decision on resuming funding. US financial support of Unrwa has been permanently banned by Congress since the allegations were made” The Guardian reported.

Meanwhile, a separate investigation is reportedly being carried out by the UN’s Office of Internal Oversight Services.

The Colonna review, which was drafted with assistance from three Nordic research institutes, “makes clear that Israel has yet to substantiate any of its broader claims about the involvement of Unrwa staff in Hamas or Islamic Jihad,” the paper reported.

Moreover, it underscores UNRWA’s indispensable role in providing vital humanitarian aid and essential services, particularly in health and education, to Palestinian refugees across Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and the West Bank.

Cut of Funding

Last month, an agreement reached by United States congressional leaders and the White House on a massive appropriations bill earmarking funds for the military, State Department, and other government programs will continue to bar US funding to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) until 2025.

The US, along with more than a dozen other countries suspended funding to UNRWA at the end of January following Israeli allegations that some of its employees were involved in the October 7 resistance operation.

The UN appointed an independent panel to conduct an assessment of UNRWA following the accusations. 

According to Reuters, the US wants to see the results of that investigation and “corrective measures taken before it will consider resuming funding.”

The White House and congressional leaders declined to comment on details of the agreement until the spending bills’ texts are made public, Reuters said.

Washington’s decision to extend its suspension of UNRWA funding came as the agency’s Commissioner-General Phillipe Lazzarini warned two days ago that “Famine is imminent in the northern Gaza Strip, expected to arrive between now and May.”

“Two million people = the entire population of Gaza is facing crisis levels of food insecurity or worse,” he said on X.

In February, fifty members of the US Congress called for the full restoration of US funding for UNRWA, saying “to prohibit or reduce UNRWA funding will significantly erode the United States’ ability to provide life-saving assistance and minimal social structure to Gaza’s 2.2 million people.”

Rep Pramila Jayapal, one of the congress members who led the call said defunding UNRWA “which has been on the frontlines of conflict in Gaza, is especially irresponsible and unacceptable given our country’s historic role as the largest contributor to UNRWA.”

Gaza Genocide

Currently on trial before the International Court of Justice for genocide against Palestinians, Israel has been waging a devastating war on Gaza since October 7. 

According to Gaza’s Ministry of Health, 34,151 Palestinians have been killed, and 77,084 wounded in Israel’s ongoing genocide in Gaza starting on October 7.

Moreover, at least 7,000 people are unaccounted for, presumed dead under the rubble of their homes throughout the Strip. 

Palestinian and international organizations say that the majority of those killed and wounded are women and children.

The Israeli war has resulted in an acute famine, mostly in northern Gaza, resulting in the death of many Palestinians, mostly children. 

The Israeli aggression has also resulted in the forceful displacement of nearly two million people from all over the Gaza Strip, with the vast majority of the displaced forced into the densely crowded southern city of Rafah near the border with Egypt – in what has become Palestine’s largest mass exodus since the 1948 Nakba.

Israel says that 1,200 soldiers and civilians were killed during the Al-Aqsa Flood Operation on October 7. Israeli media published reports suggesting that many Israelis were killed on that day by ‘friendly fire’. 

(The Palestine Chronicle)

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