Israel spells out accusations against UNRWA workers linked to Hamas attack

An Israeli document obtained Monday spelled out allegations against a dozen UN employees the country says participated in Hamas' Oct. 7 assault – claiming seven stormed into Israeli territory, including two who participated in kidnappings.

The allegations against staffers with the UN agency for Palestinian refugees prompted Western countries to freeze funds vital for the body, which is a lifeline for desperate Palestinians in Gaza. The UN fired nine of the 12 accused workers and condemned “the abhorrent alleged acts” of staff members.

The accusations come after years of tensions between Israel and the agency known as UNRWA over its work in Gaza, where it employs roughly 13,000 people.

Despite the humanitarian catastrophe unfolding in the besieged territory – where Israel’s war against Hamas has displaced the vast majority of the population and officials say a quarter of Palestinians are starving – major donors, including the US and Britain, have cut funding. On Monday, Japan and Austria joined them in pausing assistance.

With the majority of its budget in doubt, UNRWA says it will be forced to halt operations within weeks if funding isn't restored.

The war was sparked with Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack which killed 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and saw some 250 people taken captive, according to Israeli authorities.


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