Bipartisan Congressional letter calls for sanctions against UNRWA employees involved in Oct. 7

51 House lawmakers sign letter to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken that voices 'deep concern' over sanctions delay

In a pointed letter addressed to Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen and Secretary of State Antony Blinken, 51 members of the U.S. House of Representatives have voiced “deep concern” over the delay in imposing sanctions against 12 former employees of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). These individuals are alleged to have participated in the terrorist activities of October 7, prompting urgent calls for action from Capitol Hill.
"We cannot allow these terrorists who masquerade as UNRWA humanitarian aid workers to go unpunished," the letter states, highlighting the urgency of decisive action to preserve the integrity of humanitarian aid efforts.
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לוחמי צה"ל לצד סמל של אונר"א ברצועת עזה ארכיון
לוחמי צה"ל לצד סמל של אונר"א ברצועת עזה ארכיון
IDF soldiers next to a UNRWA sergeant in the Gaza S
(Photo: Jack Guez / AFP)
The letter, underscoring a bipartisan consensus, urges swift action within a 30-day window to designate these individuals as Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGTs) and impose sanctions accordingly. The lawmakers point to evidence linking UNRWA personnel with Hamas-led attacks against Israel, underscoring the grave implications of such ties for international security and U.S. foreign policy.
The revelation of UNRWA's alleged involvement in the October 7 attacks has reignited scrutiny over the agency's operations. Reports have surfaced detailing the exploitation of UNRWA resources to aid terrorist groups, including the provision of vehicles used in heinous war crimes against civilians. This nexus between humanitarian aid and terrorist activities has drawn condemnation from lawmakers and heightened calls for accountability.
During a recent House Financial Services Committee hearing, Yellen faced inquiries regarding potential sanctions against implicated UNRWA employees. Despite assurances that the matter would come under investigation, progress on this front has been notably absent, raising concerns about the integrity of U.S. efforts to combat terrorism financing.
Citing current designation criteria, the lawmakers argue that any individual or entity found to support terrorist groups should face targeted sanctions. They said that several credible media reports have corroborated the involvement of UNRWA employees in orchestrating attacks, underscoring the urgency of decisive action. The letter not only calls for the designation of implicated individuals but also demands transparency on strategies to safeguard U.S. funding from inadvertently supporting terrorism. They write that key questions remain unanswered, including whether measures are in place to monitor international aid recipients and automatic funding cutoffs in cases of terror affiliations.
While acknowledging the desire for the termination of UNRWA employees involved in the attacks, the lawmakers stress that the gravity of these allegations demands a robust response beyond mere dismissal. The integrity of humanitarian aid efforts must be preserved, they write, and those exploiting them for nefarious ends must be held accountable.
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