The accusation is one of several that have been directed at the UN agency recently. A couple of weeks ago, Israel accused UNRWA employees of having been involved in the Hamas terrorist attacks on October 7.
Nine people were dismissed – despite the fact that no evidence was presented.
– I could have suspended them, but I have fired them, said Unrwa’s head Philippe Lazzarini at a press conference, according to The Guardian.
– An investigation is now underway, and if the investigation shows that this was wrong, then we at the UN will make a decision on how to compensate them appropriately, he says further.
The “exceptional and quick decision” was made because of the risk that the Israeli accusations would affect the organization’s ability to operate in Gaza, according to Lazzarini.
Due to the accusations, several countries, including the United States and Sweden, have announced that they are pausing their support for the UN body.
On Thursday, Israel’s army invited journalists to look at the tunnels. It is not completely certain that Hamas used them, but according to AP reporters on the ground, at least part of the tunnel was under the courtyard of the building complex.
The military claims that the headquarters supplied the tunnels with electricity. Unrwa has no knowledge of what is under the headquarters, Philippe Lazzarini signs X.
However, he points out that the conclusions deserve an “independent investigation” – something that is impossible during the ongoing war, according to Lazzarini.
The headquarters, on the western edge of Gaza City, is now completely destroyed.
Facts: UN agency UNRWA
The UN agency UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, was founded after the war that broke out in connection with the creation of Israel in 1948, with the aim of helping the more than 750,000 Palestinians who were forced to flee.
Today, UNRWA helps around 5.9 million Palestinian refugees. Close to 90 percent of donations come from UN member countries. The USA, Germany, the EU, Sweden and Norway have given the greatest support.
Over half of Unrwa’s budget goes to school education. Around 15 percent goes to health promotion measures, according to figures from 2020.
The UN agency has around 30,000 employees, of which 13,000 are in Gaza. A majority are locally employed Palestinians.
Source: Unrwa, The New York Times and others