Lazzarini spoke of the “shocking allegations”. Israel has provided UNRWA with contact information for several staff members. “Any UNRWA staff involved in terrorist attacks will be held accountable, including criminal prosecution.”
The U.S. State Department said the U.S. is deeply concerned. Additional funding to UNRWA has therefore been temporarily suspended. Meanwhile, the allegations are being investigated.
United States: Twelve indicted
US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken spoke to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday about the need for a full and swift investigation into the matter. Twelve UNRWA staff members were cited in a US State Department report.
The EU's foreign policy chief, Joseph Borrell, said the community was examining its actions and would draw conclusions from the results of a detailed investigation.
Guterres himself was horrified by the news that many UNRWA staff could be involved in terrorist attacks in Israel. He further threatened the victims with immediate dismissal and criminal consequences if the investigation revealed their involvement in the attacks.
UNRWA condemns “brutal attacks”.
“Anyone who betrays the core values of the United Nations also betrays those we serve in Gaza, across the region and elsewhere in the world,” Lazzarini continued. More than two million people in the Gaza Strip have been dependent on aid since the war began. Lazzarini did not provide details on how or how many employees may have been involved in the terrorist attack on Israel.
According to the UNRWA Commissioner General, the UN relief agency strongly condemns the “heinous attacks of October 7” and calls for the release of all hostages abducted from Israel.
Founded in 1949, UNRWA provides humanitarian assistance to Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. The aid agency has repeatedly said its operations in the Gaza Strip are on the verge of collapse due to overcrowding.
The Israeli government has repeatedly accused UN agencies and the Red Cross of siding with the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and collaborating with Hamas.
On Thursday, Israel accused the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva of ignoring all “evidence” of the “terrorist use” of Hamas hospitals. WHO thus shows “secret agreement” with Hamas.
The WHO on Friday rejected the allegations. “Such false claims are harmful and endanger our workers who risk their lives to help the vulnerable,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said via Twitter. “As a United Nations agency, WHO is non-partisan and committed to the health and well-being of all people.”
Austria is also a UNRWA donor
Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg (ÖVP) also responded to the allegations. On X (Twitter) he wrote about the “shocking and alarming allegations”. UN should be beyond any doubt; It's a question of credibility, said Schallenberg.
UNRWA's donors include Austria and other European Union countries. In response to an APA inquiry, the Foreign Ministry said: “The Austrian contribution to UNRWA is divided into project-related contributions of 400,000 euros per year and three million euros per year for a health project.”
More than 1,200 people were killed
In the attack, terrorists from Hamas and other extremist Palestinian groups killed around 1,140 people in Israel. Israel responded with massive airstrikes and ground attacks. According to the Hamas-controlled Health Authority, more than 26,000 people were killed. Given the dire humanitarian situation in the sealed off coastal region, Israel is mounting international pressure.