Tue 23 Apr 2024 9:18 am - Jerusalem Time

Independent report: Israel did not provide evidence for its accusations against UNRWA employees

An independent report revealed that the Israeli government has not yet provided evidence to support allegations that UNRWA employees are linked to the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) or Islamic Jihad.

Former French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna supervised the preparation of the report commissioned by the United Nations, after Israeli allegations of links between a number of UNRWA employees and Palestinian factions in Gaza, accusations that caused a number of countries to take decisions to suspend their funding to the United Nations.

The report showed that UNRWA was regularly providing Israel with the names of its employees for scrutiny, and the Israeli government did not express any concerns regarding the alleged connection of the agency’s employees to the Palestinian resistance, and the Israeli authorities did not respond to letters from UNRWA during March and April requesting the names and supporting evidence that this would enable the organization to open an investigation in this regard.

The 50-page report, which was published yesterday, Monday, indicated that UNRWA has a “sophisticated approach (towards neutrality) that surpasses” other United Nations or similar relief organizations, but “despite this strong framework, problems related to neutrality still exist.”

It hinted that these problems include some employees who openly express their political opinions, textbooks that are taught in some UNRWA schools that contain problematic content, and employee unions that are politically active and pose a threat to UNRWA management and disrupt its work.

The report suggested a number of ways in which impartiality guarantees for UNRWA's more than 32,000 employees could be improved, such as expanding the capacity of the internal oversight service, and providing more personal training and support from donor countries.

Catherine Colonna said that UNRWA plays an indispensable role in the region and is essential in providing aid in Gaza. She added during a press conference in New York that the report she prepared recommended increasing the financial contributions allocated to the agency’s work, and she stressed that implementing the recommendations contained in the report will help in Strengthening the work of UNRWA and ensuring its neutrality.

For his part, Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for the Secretary-General of the United Nations, said that Secretary-General Antonio Guterres agreed with the report’s recommendations and agreed with UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini to develop a plan to implement those recommendations. Guterres called on all parties concerned to provide effective support to UNRWA, as it is the lifeline for Palestinian refugees in the region.

It is noteworthy that the days and weeks that followed the revelation of the Israeli allegations witnessed 16 donor countries suspending their funding to UNRWA, which left a funding gap amounting to about 450 million dollars, which represented a threat to the efforts made by the agency to deliver the necessary aid to Gaza in light of international warnings of an imminent famine.

Last week, Lazzarini stressed before the UN Security Council that UNRWA, which was established by the UN General Assembly in 1949, “is the backbone of humanitarian operations” in Gaza, denouncing a “malicious” campaign to put an end to its operations.

He warned that "dismantling UNRWA will have long-term repercussions," with the consequent "deepening of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and accelerating the emergence of famine."


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Independent report: Israel did not provide evidence for its accusations against UNRWA employees