The United Nations Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) said it has opened an investigation following Israeli allegations that some employees were involved in the October 7 military operation carried out by Hamas.
“To protect the agency’s ability to deliver humanitarian assistance, I have taken the decision to immediately terminate the contracts of these staff members and launch an investigation in order to establish the truth without delay,” Philippe Lazzarini, UNRWA Commissioner-General, said in a statement on Friday.
US Suspends Funding
The US Department of State said that it was “extremely troubled” by the Israeli allegations and that it has “ temporarily paused additional funding for UNRWA”.
UNRWA’s biggest donors in 2022 included the US, Germany and the EU.
The agency was established in 1949 to “provide assistance and protection to Palestine refugees pending a just and lasting solution to their plight”.
This is not the first time the US has decided to suspend funding the UN agency.
In September 2018, Washington, under the Trump administration, decided to cease its financial support of UNRWA.
The Biden Administration decided to resume UNRWA’s funding in April 2021.
UNRWA’s Role in ICJ Ruling
The statement issued by UNRWA’s Commissioner-general Lazzarini on January 13, one day after Israel’s oral argument at the International Criminal Court, was included by the ICJ as evidence that Israel has “caused mass displacement of a population that is in a state of flux.”
The UNRWA statement added that “the plight of children in Gaza is especially heartbreaking” and that “an entire generation of children is traumatized and will take years to heal”.
The statement was also used to prove that the crisis in Gaza “is compounded by dehumanizing language.”
According to Gaza’s Ministry of Health, 26,083 Palestinians have been killed, and 64,487 wounded in Israel’s ongoing genocide in Gaza starting on October 7. Palestinian and international estimates say that the majority of those killed and wounded are women and children.