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UK halts Gaza UN aid over alleged Hamas funding

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The United Kingdom has decided to suspend funding to the UN’s relief agency in Gaza temporarily following allegations of staff involvement in attacks against Israel by Hamas.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency acknowledged on Friday that it had terminated “several” employees amid claims from Israel that 12 of its staff members were implicated in the October 7 assault.

In response to these serious allegations, the UK’s Foreign Office declared that it would “temporarily pause any future funding of UNRWA whilst we review these concerning allegations.” 

Expressing dismay over the accusations, the Foreign Office emphasized its ongoing commitment to providing humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza who are in urgent need.

The decision by the UK aligns with similar actions taken by other countries, including the United States, Italy, Australia, Canada, and Finland, which have all halted additional funding for the UN aid agency.

According to UNRWA chief Philippe Lazzarini, the dismissal of implicated staffers was imperative “to protect the agency’s ability to deliver humanitarian assistance.” 

Lazzarini also asserted that any UNRWA employee found involved in acts of terrorism would face accountability, including potential criminal prosecution.

In light of the allegations, a senior Israeli official shared with Axios news agency that the Shin Bet and the IDF had provided intelligence indicating active involvement of UNRWA personnel, including the use of the agency’s vehicles and facilities, during the October 7 attack. The official emphasized the strength and corroboration of the intelligence, which included information from interrogations of militants apprehended during the assault.

UNRWA, established in 1949 following the first Arab-Israeli war, has consistently emphasized the criticality of its humanitarian efforts in Gaza, particularly during periods of conflict. 

Despite accusations from Israeli authorities, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, that the agency fuels anti-Israeli sentiment, UNRWA maintains its commitment to its humanitarian mission.

 

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