UN agency helping Palestinians suspends staff suspected of attacking Israel

A UNRWA fuel truck queues to enter the Palestinian territories from the Rafah border crossing. Photo: Gehad Hamdy/dpa (Gehad Hamdy/dpa/)

The United Nations aid agency for Palestinians (UNRWA) said this Friday that it had opened an investigation into several employees suspected of being involved in the October 7 attacks in Israel by Hamas and that he had severed ties with these staff members.

“Israeli authorities have provided UNRWA with information regarding the alleged involvement of several UNRWA employees in the horrific attacks against Israel on October 7”said Philippe Lazzarini, Commissioner General of UNRWA.

“To protect the agency’s ability to provide humanitarian assistance, I have made the decision to immediately terminate the contracts of these staff members and initiate an investigation to establish the truth without delay,” he added.

The UNRWAestablished in 1949 after the first Arab-Israeli war, provides services including education, primary health care, and humanitarian aid to Palestinians in Gaza, West Bank, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.

UNRWA has provided aid and used its facilities to shelter people fleeing shelling and a ground offensive launched by Israel in Gaza following the October 7 attacks, in which Israel says 1,200 people were killed and 253 taken as hostages.

“These shocking allegations come as more than 2 million people in Gaza depend on the life-saving assistance the agency has been providing since the war began.”said Lazzarini.

Israel’s offensive has devastated much of the densely populated Gaza Strip and killed more than 25,000 Palestinians.

UNRWA, whose largest donors in 2022 were United States, Germany, the European Union and Swedenhas repeatedly said that its ability to provide humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza is on the brink of collapse.

UNRWA expels and investigates several members for alleged participation in the October 7 attacks.  Europa Press/Contact/Suliman El-Fara
UNRWA expels and investigates several members for alleged participation in the October 7 attacks. Europa Press/Contact/Suliman El-Fara (Europa Press/Contact/Suliman El/)

Likewise, the international Court of Justice (ICJ) of The Hague said this Friday that will not dismiss the accusation made by South Africa about what Israel commits genocide in Gaza.

Joan E. Donoghuepresident of the ICJ, opened the session to read the expected decision of a panel of 17 judges in a case that affects the core of one of the most intractable conflicts in the world.

In sentencing, Donoghue said the Court would not dismiss the case.

“The court is fully aware of the magnitude of the human tragedy unfolding in the region and is deeply concerned by the continued loss of life and human suffering”he declared.

The Court, by 15 votes to 2, demanded that Israel take all necessary measures to prevent acts of genocide in Gaza.

This Friday’s decision, however, is only provisional; It could take years for the full case brought by South Africa to be considered. Israel rejects the accusation of genocide and had asked the court to dismiss the charges.

The Foreign Minister of the Palestinian National Authority (ANP), Riyadh al Malikicelebrated the ruling and recalled that the decisions of the UN court are of “mandatory compliance”.

“Palestine welcomes the provisional measures ordered by the ICJ against Israel today. The judges analyzed the facts and the law and ruled in favor of humanity and international law,” Maliki said in a video message released by his ministry.

As the case makes its way through the court, South Africa has asked the judges “as a matter of extreme urgency” to impose so-called provisional measures to protect the Palestinians in Gaza.

(With information from Reuters)