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UNRWA: Several countries suspend $490m funding amid staff involvement in October 7 attack



More than eight countries have suspended funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, UNRWA, after its staff member’s involvement in the 7th October attack on Israel by Hamas, a Palestinian-controlled Islamic group.

On Saturday, the United States of America, Australia, Canada, Finland, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Scotland, and the United Kingdom announced that they are suspending funding amounting to over $490 million for UNRWA.

On Friday, the Israeli government said 12 staff members of UNRWA were involved in the October 7 attacks by Hamas.

In another statement, Israel Defense Forces on Saturday also alleged that UNRWA facilities were used for “terrorist purposes” outside staff members’ involvement in the October 7 attack.

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“A case was compiled by the Intelligence Directorate, incriminating several UNRWA employees for their alleged involvement in the massacre, along with evidence pointing to the use of UNRWA facilities for terrorist purposes,” the IDF statement said.

Meanwhile, UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini has said he received “information about the alleged involvement of several employees.”

Lazzarini added that to protect the agency’s ability to deliver humanitarian assistance in Gaza, he decided “to immediately terminate the contracts of these staff members and launch an investigation to establish the truth.”

On his part, Mustafa Barghouthi, Secretary General of the Palestinian National Initiative, described the decision to suspend funds as “shameful,” emphasizing that the allegations had emerged on the same day as the International Court of Justice’s ruling.

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The development comes after the International Court of Justice, ICJ, on Friday ruled in favour of South Africa, calling for a cease-fire from Israel in the war against Hamas in Gaza.

Recall that Israel and Hamas had been in a war since October 7.