(JNS) Israeli intelligence material handed to the United States has revealed the extent of United Nations Relief and Works Agency staff participation in the October 7, 2023 massacre.
The New York Times on Sunday published details regarding the involvement of 12 UNRWA employees in the Hamas-led terrorist attack in southern Israel—10 Hamas operatives and one affiliated with Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
One of the UNRWA workers is accused of kidnapping a woman, another of participating in the Kibbutz Be'eri massacre in which nearly 100 people were murdered and a third of distributing ammunition.
Seven of the accused were teachers at UNRWA schools, according to the dossier. Six of the men were inside Israel on October 7 based on tracking of their cell phones, while others were overheard in Gaza discussing their involvement in the terrorist attack.
Three received text messages ordering them to report to meeting points on October 7, and one was told to bring a rocket-propelled grenade stored at his home.
According to the Times report, the most detailed case in the dossier involves a school counsellor from Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip who is accused of working with his son to abduct a woman from Israel. In another case, a social worker from Nuseirat in central Gaza assisted in bringing a dead Israeli soldier's body to Gaza and in distributing ammunition and coordinating vehicles on the day of the attack.
UNRWA fired the 12 employees after Israel provided intelligence regarding their complicity. United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Sunday that nine had been terminated, one was dead and the identities of the other two were being clarified.
Austria on Monday joined 14 other countries in suspending funding for UNRWA over the accusations, including the United States, Canada, Britain, Australia, Italy, Finland, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Scotland, Iceland, Estonia and Japan.
"We call on UNRWA and the United Nations to conduct a comprehensive, swift and complete investigation into the allegations," Austria's foreign ministry said in a statement.
Some 1,200 people, mostly civilians, were murdered during the October 7 terrorist attack. Thousands more were wounded and 253 taken hostage to Gaza, where 136 remain in the hands of Hamas, although some are confirmed dead.
Since October 7, UNRWA has come under fire numerous times, prompting Knesset lawmakers to reassess Israel’s relationship with the agency.
Reports released by IMPACT-SE and the UN Watch NGO document UNRWA employees expressing support for the attacks on social media.
Israeli soldiers found missiles hidden among UNRWA relief supplies, while UNRWA-marked aid sacks were found filled with dirt and used in the lining of Hamas tunnels.
Palestinians are the only refugee population with its own dedicated U.N. agency. The rest of the world’s refugees fall under the mandate of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. Israeli officials have called for UNRWA to be closed and for Palestinian refugees to be brought under the aegis of the UNHCR.
The head of the UNRWA, Philippe Lazzarini said: “It would be immensely irresponsible to sanction an agency and an entire community it serves because of allegations of criminal acts against some individuals, especially at a time of war, displacement and political crises in the region,”
“The lives of people in Gaza depend on this support, and so does regional stability,”