UN agency probes staff over role in Oct 7 attacks

January 27, 2024 by AAP
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The United Nations Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) says it has opened an investigation into several employees suspected of involvement in the October 7 attacks in Israel by Hamas and that it had severed ties with those staff members.

“The Israeli authorities have provided UNRWA with information about the alleged involvement of several UNRWA employees in the horrific attacks on Israel on October 7,” said Philippe Lazzarini, UNRWA Commissioner-General, on Friday.

“To protect the agency’s ability to deliver humanitarian assistance, I have taken the decision to immediately terminate the contracts of these staff members and launch an investigation in order to establish the truth without delay.”

Lazzarini did not disclose the number of employees allegedly involved in the attacks, nor the nature of their alleged involvement. He said, however, that “any UNRWA employee who was involved in acts of terror” would be held accountable, including through criminal prosecution.

Israeli government spokesperson Eylon Levy accused UNRWA of announcing the news while the world’s attention was focused on the World Court ordering Israel to prevent acts of genocide against Palestinians and do more to help civilians in Gaza.

“Any other day, this would have been a major headline: Israel submits evidence of UN employees’ complicity with Hamas,” Levy wrote on X.

Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, has been briefed about the allegations, his spokesperson said.

“The Secretary-General is horrified by this news,” said spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric.

Dujarric added that the UN chief had asked Lazzarini to conduct a probe to ensure that any UNRWA employee shown to have participated or abetted the October 7 attacks be terminated immediately and referred for potential criminal prosecution.

“An urgent and comprehensive independent review of UNRWA will be conducted,” Dujarric added.

UNRWA, whose biggest donors in 2022 included the United States, Germany and the European Union, has repeatedly said its capacity to render humanitarian assistance to people in Gaza is on the verge of collapse.

The US State Department said it was extremely troubled by the allegations, which it said pertained to 12 UNRWA employees. It said it would provide no additional funding to the agency until the allegations were addressed.

“The Department of State has temporarily paused additional funding for UNRWA while we review these allegations and the steps the United Nations is taking to address them,” spokesperson Matthew Miller said.

Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said the US decision was an important step toward holding UNRWA accountable.

“Major changes need to take place so that international efforts, funds, and humanitarian initiatives don’t fuel Hamas terrorism and the murder of Israelis,” he wrote on X.

The US State Department had recently praised UNRWA’s work, and the administration of Joe Biden restored funding that was halted during Donald Trump’s tenure.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said it would “assess further steps and draw lessons based on the result of the full and comprehensive investigation”.

UNRWA, established in 1949 following the first Arab-Israeli war, provides services including schooling, primary healthcare and humanitarian aid to Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.

Israeli authorities, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, have accused the agency of fuelling anti-Israeli incitement, allegations it denies.



One Response to “UN agency probes staff over role in Oct 7 attacks”
  1. Lynne Newington says:

    The recent comment “Just a few bad apples” seems to be the constant cry used as a get out of jail card.

    Not good enough.

    It’s a contagion one bad apple can contaminate the rest and we’ve certainly seen that sometime in our lives.

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