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Israel fails to provide evidence for allegations against UNRWA staff

April 23, 2024 at 1:07 pm

A view of destruction at UNRWA headquarters, which provides aid to millions of Palestinians and works under the United Nations, is targeted by Israel in Gaza City, Gaza on 11 February, 2024 [Karam Hassan – Anadolu Agency]

A review by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) has concluded that Israel has yet to provide supporting evidence for its claims that a significant number of UNRWA employees have ties to Palestinian resistance factions.

The claim, issued on the same day that the International Court of Justice (ICJ) issued its interim ruling on Israel’s actions in Gaza which it said could amount to genocide, led to a number of UNRWA staff losing their jobs and millions in international aid to the agency being cut.

Since Israel made the allegations, its Western allies have frozen donations to the UN body which provides vital humanitarian services including food, schooling and medical support to Palestine refugees in the occupied territories, including in Gaza, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan.

“However, Israel has yet to provide supporting evidence of this,” the report released yesterday said.

Israel has repeatedly equated UNRWA staff with Hamas members in efforts to discredit them, providing no proof of the claims, while lobbying hard to have UNRWA closed as it is the only UN agency to have a specific mandate to look after the basic needs of Palestinian refugees. If the agency no longer exists, argues Israel, then the refugee issue must no longer exist, and the legitimate right for Palestinian refugees to return to their land will be unnecessary.

Israel has denied that right of return since the late 1940s, even though its own membership of the UN was made conditional upon Palestinian refugees being allowed to return to their homes and land.

READ: ‘Attacks on UNRWA are about squeezing the Palestinians’: MEMO in Conversation with Chris Gunness