UN Workers Accused of Helping Hamas Raid

US, other nations have paused aid to UN Relief and Works Agency over allegations by Israel
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 29, 2024 6:27 AM CST
UN Workers Accused of Helping Hamas Raid
Palestinians look at the destruction after an Israeli strike in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, Saturday, Jan. 27, 2024.   (AP Photo/Fatima Shbair)

At least 12 employees of a UN relief agency either took part in Hamas' October raid of Israel or helped its planning, reports the Wall Street Journal, citing Israeli intelligence reports. The accusations have rattled the UN Relief and Works Agency and caused the US and several other Western nations to suspend funding. Some of the details:

  • Allegations: Six UNRWA workers took part in the raid itself and participated in the killing and kidnapping, according to the intel reports. Others allegedly helped with the logistics of planning. The New York Times ticks off examples: "One is accused of kidnapping a woman. Another is said to have handed out ammunition. A third was described as taking part in the massacre at a kibbutz where 97 people died."

  • Firings: In response, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said nine of the accused were "immediately identified and terminated," one is dead, and the investigation continues into two others, per the Washington Post. Guterres said he was "horrified" by the allegations.
  • The group: UNRWA is the biggest provider of humanitarian aid in Gaza, notes the AP. In recent weeks, it has been among the loudest voices condemning Israel's bombardment of Gaza, which has cost an estimated 26,000 lives. The agency was set up in 1949 after the Arab-Israeli War to help the approximately 700,000 Palestinians displaced in that conflict.
  • Context: Israel has long accused Hamas of "siphoning off" aid sent to the UN agency for its own purposes and of using its buildings in Gaza to help shield its network of tunnels, per the AP. UNRWA has about 12,000 employees in Gaza, and Israel alleges that about 1,200 of them are linked to Hamas or the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and that half of UNRWA employees have relatives in those groups. The US, Britain, Germany, Australia and others have paused funding as the investigation unfolds. "These decisions threaten our ongoing humanitarian work across the region including and especially in the Gaza Strip," said Philippe Lazzarini, head of UNRWA, as he urged the nations to reconsider, per Reuters.
(More Israel-Hamas war stories.)

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