UNRWA chief 'shocked' at countries stopping agency's funding

Several countries freeze millions of dollars of funds intended for UNRWA following allegations of agency employs participating in October 7 massacre; UNRWA chief 'shocked' saying that action has been taken 'against a small group of staff'; Germany, UNRWA's second highest funder also stops funding

The Commissioner General of UNRWA, Philippe Lazzarini, criticized on Saturday the decision of the U.S., Germany, Great Britain and other countries to halt funds to the U.N agency for Palestinian refugees. Lazzarini said that the cessation of funding is "shocking", and warned that it threatens the continuation of humanitarian activities in the region, especially in Gaza. He called on the countries to reconsider their decision.
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The countries that stopped their funding to UNRWA did so following an investigation launched by the agency under the suspicion that some of its employees took part in the October 7 massacre. In a previously published statement, UNRWA made it clear that it had terminated the contracts of those employees.

"It is shocking to see a suspension of funds to the Agency in reaction to allegations against a small group of staff, especially given the immediate action that UNRWA took by terminating their contracts and asking for a transparent independent investigation," Lazzarini said on Saturday.
Lazzarini emphasized that the termination of the employment of the workers followed Israel providing information about their involvement in the terrorist attack. Lazzarini did not reveal exactly how many employees were involved or exactly how they were involved, but added that "Any UNRWA employee who was involved in acts of terror will be held accountable, including through criminal prosecution." The US State Department later reported that it was 12 employees who took part in the attack.
On Friday, the U.S. announced the cessation of the transfer of funds to UNRWA. The decision was joined by Britain, Canada, Italy, Australia and Finland over the last day. On Saturday, the Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland joined the decision and decided to freeze the funding as well.
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תיעוד מאמצעי הלחימה שאיתרו לוחמי חטיבת כפיר בשק של אונר"א
תיעוד מאמצעי הלחימה שאיתרו לוחמי חטיבת כפיר בשק של אונר"א
IDF footage shows weapons hidden in UNRWA bags
(Photo: IDF Spokesperson's Unit)
The U.S. is the largest donor to UNRWA. During 2022, the U.S. had transferred 344 million dollars to the agency. It is followed by Germany, with a total of 202 million dollars, and the European Union with 114 million dollars (which it promised to cut due to the incitement in the textbooks). Australia, Great Britain, Canada and Finland together provided funding of 66 million dollars.
Israeli pressures increased during the current war while publishing findings that linked UNRWA employees to Hamas with evidence such as the glorification of the October 7 massacre and even proof of active participation. Foreign Minister Israel Katz said, "We will not let this go. We will demand that the events be fully investigated. The U.N should immediately dismiss the directors of UNRWA and open an independent and transparent investigation into what happened in UNRWA-Hamas Gaza." According to Katz, "Many of the UNRWA employees are Hamas members who help it in providing shelter for terrorist activities and maintaining its rule. We must make sure that UNRWA will not be part of the day after in Gaza and that other parties will come in its place."
The Foreign Ministry instructed the Israeli embassies in countries that are significant donors to UNRWA to contact the authorities requesting that they freeze funds until the involvement of the organization's employees is clarified. The embassies were instructed to request an in-depth investigation to verify that there are no more Hamas officials employed in the agency's service.
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UNRWA commissioner general Philippe Lazzarini
UNRWA commissioner general Philippe Lazzarini
UNRWA commissioner General Philippe Lazzarini
(Photo: Courtesy)
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ישראל כץ פגישה עם מזכיר המדינה של ארה"ב אנתוני בלינקן ב תל אביב
ישראל כץ פגישה עם מזכיר המדינה של ארה"ב אנתוני בלינקן ב תל אביב
Foreign Minister Israel Katz and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken
(Photo: Shlomi Amsalem, Foreign Ministry)
Deputy Director General for U.N and International Organizations Division Amir Weissbrod wrote to the embassies that this is a serious incident and that UNRWA should conduct a comprehensive house check: "We call on the UN to thoroughly check themselves and draw the necessary conclusions, including the termination of employment of the head of the organization. This is a serious incident that teaches about a deeper problem that Israel has been warning about for years. It shows that UNRWA is part of the problem and not part of the solution, and that its institutions have been engaged for years in preserving the narrative of refugees, and educating Palestinian children with incitement content."
(קרדיט: ILTV)
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