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UNRWA established new refugee camps in Gaza. (Photo: Supplied)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff  

Tel Aviv’s allegations of the UNRWA employees’ involvement in the Hamas operation caused significant damage to the agency’s funding and reputation.

The United Nations has closed five cases of allegations that its relief workers were involved in the military operation carried out by the Palestinian Resistance on October 7, amid a notable lack of evidence given by Israel in support of its claims, the Middle East Monitor reported. 

Last January, Israel accused employees of the UN’s Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in Gaza of having participated in the Hamas-led operation, in a further attempt to defame and discredit the vital aid relief agency at a time it has been most needed in the besieged strip.

According to Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for UN Secretary General, the internal investigation into over 12 UNRWA relief workers by the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) has decided to close five of their cases.

One person was cleared “as no evidence was provided by Israel to support the allegations”, while investigations into three cases were suspended due to insufficient evidence provided by Israel.

Another “has also been suspended pending receipt of additional supporting evidence” to be re-examined during a UN team’s visit to the country in May. The remaining cases “are currently under investigation”, Dujarric said.

Tel Aviv’s allegations of the UNRWA employees’ involvement in the Hamas operation caused significant damage to the agency’s funding and reputation, resulting in numerous Western states withdrawing support and funds from the UN relief organization.

Independent Report

On April 22, the British newspaper The Guardian reported that an independent review led by former French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna revealed that Israel has not yet provided sufficient evidence to support its claims.

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.

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.”

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.”

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, 34,454 Palestinians have been killed, and 77,575 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’.


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