Donor Nations Suspend Aid After a Dozen UNRWA Employees Found to Have Joined October 7 Attacks
The proof provided by Israel was even enough for UNRWA.
By Hugh Fitzgerald
The government of Israel has incontrovertible proof, including evidence the IDF gathered inside Gaza, that twelve employees of UNRWA joined Hamas operatives in committing atrocities — raping, torturing, mutilating, murdering Israelis — on October 7. Apparently the proof provided by Israel was convincing enough for UNRWA — despite its history of deep animus toward the Jewish state — to fire those dozen employees. Now UNRWA itself is being pressured to conduct a thorough investigation of its 13,000 employees in Gaza, to find out how many others are members of, or collaborators with, Hamas.
Meanwhile, countries that have been major contributors to UNRWA have “put on hold” their aid to UNRWA, until that investigation has been completed, and appropriate action taken. More on the donors withholding aid to UNRWA can be found here: “Britain, Italy and Finland Pause Funding for UNRWA,” Algemeiner, January 27, 2024:
Britain, Italy and Finland on Saturday [Jan. 27] became the latest countries to pause funding for the United Nations’ refugee agency for Palestinians (UNRWA), following allegations its staff were involved in the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks on Israel.
Set up to help refugees of the 1948 war at Israel’s founding, UNRWA provides education, health, and aid services to Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon. It helps about two thirds of Gaza’s 2.3 million population and has played a pivotal aid role during the current war.
The United States, Australia and Canada had already paused funding to the aid agency after Israel said 12 UNRWA employees were involved in the cross-border attack. The agency has opened an investigation into several employees and severed ties with them.
The Palestinian foreign ministry criticized what it described as an Israeli campaign against UNRWA, and the Hamas militant group condemned the termination of employee contracts “based on information derived from the Zionist enemy.”
The UK Foreign Office said it was temporarily pausing funding for UNRWA while the accusations were reviewed and noted London had condemned the Oct. 7 attacks as “heinous” terrorism.
The Italian government has suspended financing of the UNRWA after the atrocious attack on Israel on October 7,” Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani said on social media platform X.
Finland also said it suspended funding.
Both Italy and Finland suspended their financial aid to UNRWA on Jan. 26. The Netherlands suspended its aid a day later. Then Scotland, Germany, and Switzerland announced that they, too, were suspending aid. A total of nine major donor nations have announced by Jan. 28 that they have suspended their aid to UNRWA because of its dozen employees joining Hamas on its October 7 rampage: the U.S., the U.K. (including Scotland, which issued a separate announcement), Canada, Australia, Italy, Germany, Finland, the Netherlands, and Switzerland. Given these suspensions of aid, UNRWA will have to shrink its bloated bureaucracy in Gaza and at the same time, slash the salaries of those who remain. The agency may attempt to persuade rich Arab states to give more to their Palestinian brothers, but these countries have never given much to UNRWA in the past and there is no reason to think they will do so now. Saudi Arabia’s contribution to UNRWA in 2022 was $27 million. Most recently, the Kingdom provided UNRWA with a check for the derisory sum of $2 million. Qatar gave $18 million, and the UAE $20 million, in 2022. Compare those amounts to the American contribution in the same year of $344 million.
Hussein al-Sheikh, head of the Palestinians’ umbrella political body, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), said cutting support brought major political and relief risks.
“We call on countries that announced the cessation of their support for UNRWA to immediately reverse their decision,” he said on X.
Call on those countries all you want, Hussein al-Sheikh. They are in no mood to listen. They want UNRWA to explain how it was that a dozen of its employees collaborated with Hamas in its pogrom on October 7. They want UNRWA to assure them that it has thoroughly investigated other employees to make sure that none of them has behaved similarly. And finally, they want UNRWA, at long last, to finally do what it has promised to do for the last half-dozen years — that is, to remove all antisemitic content from its schoolbooks — but it has always failed to follow through. Only after those demands have been met will those infuriated former donors agree to turn on again the tap of aid to UNRWA, likely with a diminished flow. Tighten your belt, UNRWA. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.
Image Credit: © Mohamed Ahmed Soliman