U.S. Suspends Funding to UNRWA Amid Hamas Attack Claims

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The United Nations fired a number of staffers at its Palestinian refugee company over Israeli allegations that they took half within the Oct. 7 assault by Hamas, information that prompted the U.S., the U.Okay. and different international locations to droop funding.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres “is horrified by the news” that employees with the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, or UNRWA, could have been concerned within the assault by Hamas militants on southern Israel, and urged the company’s chief to refer the accused for potential prosecution, his workplace mentioned in an announcement Friday. According to the assertion, there shall be an “urgent and comprehensive independent review” of the company.

The claims come as a black eye for UNRWA, which supplies humanitarian help and safety to Palestinian refugees within the Gaza Strip, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the West Bank. It has lengthy been regarded with suspicion by Israel and Republicans within the U.S., who argue that it solely fuels the Israeli-Palestinian battle and cash going to meals, training and well being care frees up Hamas to fund hostilities in opposition to Israel.

“These shocking allegations come as more than 2 million people in Gaza depend on lifesaving assistance that the agency has been providing since the war began,” UNRWA Director-General Philippe Lazzarini mentioned in an announcement Friday. “Anyone who betrays the fundamental values of the United Nations also betrays those whom we serve in Gaza, across the region and elsewhere around the world.”

Israel mentioned it would search U.S. and European Union help to halt UNRWA operations in Gaza. Foreign Minister Israel Katz wrote in a publish on X that his ministry needs to make sure the company “will not be part of the day after.”

He urged the U.N. to take “immediate personal actions” in opposition to the UNRWA management.

While criticism over UNRWA’s position within the Israel-Palestinian battle grew to become much more charged after Hamas launched its shock assault on Israel, the group has additionally paid a heavy worth in Israel’s bombardment of Gaza, with greater than 150 of its workers killed within the violence. 

A overwhelming majority of UNRWA’s 30,000 workers is Palestinian, with 13,000 of these in Gaza. The U.S. State Department mentioned in an announcement Friday that 12 UNRWA workers had been accused of hyperlinks to the assaults.

The U.S. — UNRWA’s principal donor — additionally introduced Friday it was suspending extra funding for the group within the wake of the allegations. “There must be complete accountability for anyone who participated in the heinous attacks of Oct. 7,” State Department spokesman Matthew Miller mentioned within the assertion. The US contributed greater than $296 million to the group in 2023.

The U.Okay., Australia, Canada, Italy and Finland additionally mentioned they’re pausing extra funding to UNRWA.

Senator James Risch, an Idaho Republican who serves on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, mentioned he had warned the Biden administration for years about funding the company, which he mentioned “has a history of employing people connected to terrorist movements like Hamas.”

Despite the latest allegations, the U.S. signaled it continues to help the company. UNRWA performs “a critical role in providing lifesaving assistance to Palestinians, including essential food, medicine, shelter, and other vital humanitarian support,” Miller mentioned within the assertion.

The EU additionally expressed concern over the allegations, and mentioned it expects UNRWA “to provide full transparency on the allegations and to take immediate measures against staff involved.”

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