Tel Aviv: The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) has sacked several of its employees suspected of involvement in the October 7 terror attacks on Israel.
UNRWA chief Philippe Lazzarini in a statement said that the agency had sacked several of its employees after Israel’s accusation. He however did not mention number of employees who were sacked.
Sources in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) told IANS that 12 of UNRWA staff had participated in the violent terror attacks of October 7 leading to the brutal slaughter of 1,200 people in Israel. They also said that the information on the alleged involvement of UMRWA staff members was provided by the terrorists who were arrested by Israel.
The UNRWA chief in a statement on Friday night said, “Any UNRWA employee who was involved in acts of terror will be held accountable, including through criminal prosecution.”
He also said that Israel authorities had provided information on the alleged involvement of its staff members.
The Israeli side has also alleged that UNRWA vehicles were also used during the terror onslaught of October 7.
Israel Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, in a social media post after the UNRWA sacked its staffers for the alleged involvement, said, “Terrorism under the guise of humanitarian work is a disgrace to the UN and the principles it claims to represent.”
The spokesperson of the Secretary General of the United Nations in a statement on Friday said, “Urgent and comprehensive review of UNRWA will be conducted.”
The statement also said that United Nations chief Antonio Guterres was horrified on the accusations against an UN agency and hence has issued a comprehensive review on the functioning of the UNRWA.
The US state department also said in a statement that it was extremely horrified by the accusations and that it had temporarily paused additional funding to the UNRWA. It may be noted that the US had contributed a whopping $340 million to the UNRWA in 2022
Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan in a statement said, “How symbolic that precisely on International Holocaust Remembrance Day it was proven what we have been claiming for years: that UNRWA employees are collaborators of the terrorist organisation Hamas and that the UN has become not only a place where the existence of the State of Israel is delegitimized, but that its employees physically participated in the attempted extermination of Israel and the murder of innocent citizens.”
UNRWA provided services including providing relief aid to the Gaza Strip, and parts of the West Bank which help prevent a major chaos in the area for lack of basic necessities.
UNRWA also provides relief to Palestinian refugees in Syria, Jordan and Lebanon.
The outbreak of war deteriorated relations between Israel and UNRWA. The agency had charged that Israel was targeting civilian areas including its schools and its first responder stations.
Israel said UNRWA was, willfully or under threat, providing cover for Hamas terrorists.
The Palestinian authorities have accused IDF for killing more than 26,000 Palestinians including women and children.