UNRWA's funding woes deepen as countries react to staff involvement in October 7 massacre

Following US, UK, Italy, Canada and others suspending UNRWA funding, agency fired employees linked to Hamas attack, asserting, 'any involved in terror will face consequences'; FM Katz demands immediate dismissal of UNRWA leadership independent inquiry into 'UNRWA-Hamas Gaza activities'
Britain and other countries joined the U.S. on Saturday in withholding funds to UNRWA, the United Nations relief agency for Palestinians, following allegations that agency workers took part in the October 7 massacre.
<< Follow Ynetnews on Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | TikTok >>
Read more:
On Friday, UNRWA announced that it had opened an investigation into allegations that some of its workers were involved in the terrorist attack against Israel, and said that it severed ties with those employees.
3 View gallery
הנציב הכללי של סוכנות הסעד אונר"א פיליפ לזאריני
הנציב הכללי של סוכנות הסעד אונר"א פיליפ לזאריני
UNRWA General Secretary Philippe Lazzarini
UNRWA General Secretary Philippe Lazzarini said that the termination of the workers' contracts came after Israel provided information about their involvement in the terrorist attack. Lazzarini did not reveal exactly how many workers were involved or exactly how they were involved, but added that the law would be met with "Any UNRWA employee who was involved in acts of terror will be held accountable, including through criminal prosecution." The U.S. State Department later reported that 12 employees were suspected to have been involved in the attack.
In a statement concerning the investigation by UNRWA, and the suspension of British funding, the Foreign Office in London said that Britain was shocked by the allegations. "The UK is appalled by allegations that UNRWA staff were involved in the 7 October attack against Israel, a heinous act of terrorism that the UK Government has repeatedly condemned," the statement said.
Italy, Canada, Australia and Finland followed the U.S.'s suit and announced the suspension of funding to UNRWA. "The Italian government has suspended financing of the UNRWA after the atrocious attack on Israel on October 7," Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani posted on X.
Canada joined Italy in criticizing the agency over its alleged involvement in the October 7 massacre. Canadian Minister of International Development Ahmed Hussen, expressed "Canada’s alarm about allegations of the agency’s staff being involved in Hamas’s brutal terrorist attacks against Israel on October 7, 2023." He added that Canada has temporarily paused any additional funding to UNRWA while it undertakes a thorough investigation into these allegations.
Foreign Minister Israel Katz has called on more countries to cease funding UNRWA, stating, "We will not relent, insisting on a thorough investigation of the events. The UN must immediately dismiss UNRWA's leaders and initiate an independent, transparent inquiry into UNRWA-Hamas Gaza activities."
He added, "Many UNRWA employees are Hamas members aiding in terror activities and maintaining its rule. We must ensure that UNRWA does not partake in Gaza's future, replaced by other entities."
Opposition Leader Yair Lapid supported the suspension of funds, saying "The time has come to establish an alternative organization that will not educate generations of Palestinian children in hatred and will not cooperate with Hamas terrorism."
3 View gallery
יאיר לפיד בישיבת הסיעה של יש עתיד בכנסת
יאיר לפיד בישיבת הסיעה של יש עתיד בכנסת
Opposition Leader Yair Lapid supports halting UNRWA funds
(Photo: Amit Shabi)
Hamas responded to UNRWA's decision to expel the suspected workers and said that they condemn the decision, which is based on "Zionist accusations". "We condemn referring to our resistance as 'terror.' It is not UNRWA's place to take a political side regarding the conflict. It is clear that UNRWA has been blackmailed by countries that support Zionist terrorism under the pretext of continued financial support."
The PLO called on the countries that announced the cessation of their support for UNRWA to immediately reverse their decision, which entails great political and relief risks.

A billion-dollar budget, 59 refugee camps

UNRWA was established on December 8, 1949, and is the only United Nations agency dedicated to dealing with a specific group of refugees. It was established separately from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, whose goal is to take care of all the refugees in the world. As of 2023, UNRWA employs 30,000 people, who are responsible for direct aid to the Palestinians, nutritional aid, educational aid and financial aid.
UNRWA takes care of 59 Palestinian refugee camps in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Its annual budget fluctuates but remains steady at about a billion dollars, and originates mainly from countries that stopped funds to the agency. Most of the organization's funds are intended for the operation of schools.
3 View gallery
מחנה אוהלים ברפיח
מחנה אוהלים ברפיח
Displaced persons camp in Rafah, Gaza
(Photo: AP /Fatima Shbair)
During the war, the IDF and other organizations revealed that Hamas was using UNRWA clinics, schools and equipment for terrorist purposes. In addition, it was revealed how UNRWA teachers celebrated the massacre against Israel on Telegram.
Israel has been pressing for years to close UNRWA, but the UN General Assembly renews the agency's mandate every three years, which expires on June 30, 2026. The Trump administration stopped U.S. funding for UNRWA, but the Biden administration resumed it, despite Israeli claims of incitement in its textbooks, the employment of terrorist operatives and the perpetuation of the Palestinian refugee problem.
The commenter agrees to the privacy policy of Ynet News and agrees not to submit comments that violate the terms of use, including incitement, libel and expressions that exceed the accepted norms of freedom of speech.