The United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) announced Friday it is investigating several employees suspected of involvement in the Oct. 7 attacks in Israel, which were carried out by Hamas. The agency has terminated contracts with those staff members.
UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini stated that the Israeli authorities provided information about the alleged involvement of several UNRWA employees in the attacks. “To ensure the agency’s humanitarian assistance continues unimpeded, I’ve decided to immediately terminate these staff members’ contracts and initiate an investigation to swiftly uncover the truth,” Lazzarini said.
While Lazzarini did not specify the number of employees or details of their alleged involvement, he affirmed that any UNRWA staff member involved in acts of terror would face accountability, including criminal prosecution.
Israeli government spokesperson Eylon Levy criticized UNRWA’s timing for releasing this information, suggesting it coincided with global focus on the World Court’s orders to Israel regarding actions in Gaza. “On any other day, this revelation about UN employees’ links with Hamas would have dominated headlines,” Levy commented.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has been informed of the allegations, according to his spokesperson, Stéphane Dujarric. “The Secretary-General is appalled by these allegations and has instructed Lazzarini to conduct a thorough investigation, ensuring immediate termination and possible criminal prosecution for any involved UNRWA employee,” Dujarric stated, adding that an urgent and comprehensive independent review of UNRWA will be conducted.
UNRWA, heavily funded in 2022 by the United States, Germany, and the European Union, has previously expressed concerns about its diminishing capacity to provide humanitarian aid in Gaza.
The US State Department expressed deep concern over the allegations, specifically involving 12 UNRWA employees. The department asserted that it will withhold additional funding to the agency until the allegations are fully addressed.