UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in Gaza Has Been Secretly Sponsoring Terrorists – Israel Claims

An Israeli intelligence report, detailed by the Wall Street Journal, claims that approximately one in ten members of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in Gaza is affiliated with Hamas or Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

UNRWA, which has been a longstanding provider of healthcare, food, infrastructure, and education in Gaza with an annual budget of $1.3 billion, faces accusations that six of its staff members participated in the October 7 attack, crossing the border into Israel.

Some of these individuals reportedly worked in UNRWA schools, including roles such as Arabic and math teachers.

Calls for Disbandment: Accusations and Response

Israeli sources, drawing from the intelligence report, are advocating for the disbandment of UNRWA, asserting that half of its employees have close relatives with active memberships in militant groups.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has explicitly called for the shutdown of UNRWA, claiming it is “totally infiltrated with Hamas” and suggesting its replacement with a neutral organization.

While the U.S. Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, acknowledges the seriousness of Israel’s claims, the U.S. has halted funding for UNRWA.

The accusations have stirred controversy over the impartiality and credibility of the organization.

International Response and Funding Freeze

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres’ call for a halt to the bombardment of Gaza has heightened tensions, leading to increased condemnations from Israel.

The United States, as the largest contributor to the United Nations, has ceased funding UNRWA, considering the claims against the organization as “highly credible.”

Despite the freeze in funding, UNRWA’s director general, Philippe Lazzarini, deems it a form of “collective punishment,” emphasizing that those alleged to be involved in the attack were terminated from their positions.

Challenges to Accusations: UNRWA’s Perspective

UNRWA spokesperson Tamara Alrifai challenges the accusations, urging Israel to provide specific details about the alleged involvement of its staff.

She questions the accountability of individuals for the actions of their relatives and emphasizes the need for clarity in the accusations.

Lazzarini points out that the funding suspension adversely affects UNRWA’s humanitarian efforts and characterizes it as collective punishment.

Historical Context: Accusations and Cooperation

Throughout its history, UNRWA has faced accusations ranging from turning a blind eye to Hamas activities to actively supporting or being coerced into compliance with their schemes.

Instances of weapons found hidden in UNRWA sites and tunnels dug beneath them have fueled suspicions.

The level of cooperation between UNRWA and the rulers of Gaza remains unclear, with differing perspectives on the extent of entwinement with Hamas.

The complexity of this issue has led to contrasting narratives, with UNRWA downplaying the problem and Israel emphasizing its severity.

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