In the aftermath of the October 7 attack on Israel by Hamas, a Palestinian-controlled Islamic group, at least nine countries have decided to suspend funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). The agency’s Commissioner-General, Philippe Lazzarini, disclosed this information, revealing that he had received reports about the alleged involvement of several UNRWA employees in the attack.
On Saturday, the United States of America, Australia, Canada, Finland, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Scotland, and the United Kingdom jointly announced the suspension of funding, amounting to over $490 million, for UNRWA. The decision came after the Israeli government asserted that 12 UNRWA staff members were involved in the October 7 attacks by Hamas.
In a statement, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) on Saturday also accused UNRWA facilities of being used for terrorist purposes, irrespective of the staff members’ involvement in the October 7 attack. The IDF statement mentioned that evidence pointed to the use of UNRWA facilities for such purposes.
UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini took swift action to protect the agency’s ability to deliver humanitarian assistance in Gaza. He decided to immediately terminate the contracts of the implicated staff members and initiated an investigation to establish the truth.
In response to the suspension of funds, Secretary General of the Palestinian National Initiative, Mustafa Barghouthi, criticized the decision as shameful. He noted that the allegations coincided with the International Court of Justice’s ruling on the same day, which favored South Africa and called for a cease-fire from Israel in the conflict with Hamas that had been ongoing since October 7.