UNRWA workers accused of kidnapping woman, taking part in kibbutz massacre
A report released late Sunday claims that employees of the UN agency responsible for Palestinian refugees abducted Israelis and transported ammunition as well as the body of a soldier. They also took part in an attack on a kibbutz, killing several people.
The New York Times attributed the details to a document provided to the US Government. This dossier was the reason behind the decision of UNRWA to fire 12 employees. Many countries halted their funding to UNRWA over the weekend.
According to the report, a UNRWA school counsellor from Khan Younis (southern Gaza) is “accused” of working with son in order to kidnap a woman from Israel.
The report also said that “a social work from Nuseirat in central Gaza is accused of helping bring the dead body of an Israeli soldier into Gaza as well as distribution of ammunition and coordination of vehicles on the day the attack,”
The third employee “was described as having taken part in the mass murder at a Kibbutz where there were 97 deaths” — apparently Kibbutz be’eri, which was one of the most ravaged by the Hamas led onslaught on October 7.
The report stated that the dossier described the names, details, and positions within UNRWA of 12 workers and contends 10 of them are members of Hamas terrorist group, while one belongs Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
Israel’s intelligence, according to the report, was gained by tracking the phones and monitoring the phone calls of others who discussed their participation in the attack. It also read the text messages sent to three other people ordering them to appear at the muster points before the assault. One of those texts ordered him to bring RPGs that were stored at his house.
Seven of the accused worked as teachers in UNRWA-run schools and two others in different capacities. Three others were listed as clerks, social workers and storeroom managers.
The dossier contained the most detailed allegations against a school counselor in Khan Younis in southern Gaza. He is accused of working together with his son in order to kidnap a woman in Israel.
Israel’s Channel 13 reported on Sunday night that the two Israeli hostages who were released from Gaza testified they had been held separately in captivity by UNRWA employees, sometimes at their homes.
The hostage claimed that the captor’s daughter told them he was a UNWRA instructor. He then fed the hostage snacks distributed by UNWRA and moved around UNWRA buildings to avoid detection when Israeli troops were closing in.
It wasn’t immediately clear if it was the same incident as detailed in The Times.
The report stated that the US was unable to verify any details or the identities of the accused but found the allegations to be sufficiently credible and alarming to stop funding.
The newspaper stated that it has only been able so far to verify the identity one of the accused. It described him as “a storeroom supervisor, whose Facebook profile lists him as a UNRWA worker and shows him in UN-branded clothing.”
On the 7th of October, 3,000 terrorists crossed into Israel and overran military bases, communities, and killed about 1,200 people. Most were civilians, who were murdered in their homes or at a music concert. They also took 253 people hostage to Gaza where half of them remain.
These accusations are just the latest in an ongoing series of Israeli complaints against the UN agency. Previous complaints include that the UN agency allows anti-Israeli propaganda to be taught at its schools, and that certain staff members collaborate with Hamas. In 2018, the Trump administration cut funding for the agency, but Joe Biden reinstated it.
UNRWA announced on Friday that it had terminated several employees due to unspecified allegations. The accusations were made by the US, Germany and Britain.
Supporters of the agency say that the accusations against it are meant to minimize the long-running refugee problem and have called the funding cut collective punishment. UNRWA Commissioner General Philippe Lazzarini announced last week that he will appoint a third party to investigate the allegations, both for “what’s true or not” and also “what’s politically motivated.”
UNRWA currently operates 58 camps in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.
Israel continues to work with UNWRA despite its longstanding opposition to the agency. This reflects a change in Jerusalem’s policy.
After the Gaza War, Israel Katz, the Foreign Minister of Israel said that the organization “must be re-established with agencies dedicated for genuine peace and growth” and demanded the resignation Lazzarini.
Channel 13 also published documents showing that Israel supplied flour and other products directly to UNWRA Gaza.
Three diplomatic sources told Israel Hayom that Jerusalem has had information about the UNRWA employees for weeks, but that it had not been released publicly because the Israeli political system understood that UNWRA was the only working body in Gaza. Without it, chaos would have worsened.
The newspaper claimed that the UNWRA suddenly announced an investigation into their workers. It speculated that this was due to be revealed in a upcoming US Congress hearing.