Western Countries Suspend Funding for UN Relief Agency in Gaza

A scandal broke out on Jan. 26 when allegations emerged that some staffers of the UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees) may have participated in the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas on Israel, and those individuals were promptly fired. However, the claims, as well as the timing of their release, are suspicious, because they come from Israeli sources, and because they were publicized on the very same day that the International Court of Justice issued its ruling ordering Israel to protect civilians in Gaza.

The Israeli government then canceled its planned meeting with UNRWA chief Philippe Lazzarini and called for his resignation, although he had taken action against the suspects, and had unambiguously condemned the Oct. 7 attacks. But even more disturbing is the fact that the United States immediately suspended all funding for the UN relief organization, followed by eight other countries (Finland, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the UK in Europe, as well as Australia and Canada). Others have since joined in. That decision will translate directly into more death and suffering.

Lazzarini responded appropriately Jan. 27 on X, writing: “UNRWA lifesaving assistance is about to end following countries decisions to cut their funding to the Agency. Our humanitarian operation, on which 2 million people depend as a lifeline in Gaza, is collapsing. I am shocked such decisions are taken based on alleged behavior of a few individuals and as the war continues, needs are deepening & famine looms. Palestinians in Gaza did not need this additional collective punishment. This stains all of us.”

The UNRWA is virtually the only UN agency currently operating in Gaza, and employs some 13,000 people, ranging from school teachers to doctors, medical staff and aid workers. Of those, according to Israeli intelligence services, 12 are accused of participating in the terrorist attacks. So, the punishment is totally disproportionate, to say the least, and indicates that there are other ulterior motives in play. At the very least, it makes those countries that suspend funding accomplices in the genocide now occurring in Gaza.

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