Israel-Hamas War and Gaza Fighting: Latest News

U.N. officials and some donor nations are renewing calls to revive funding for the main U.N. agency aiding Palestinians, after a review found that Israel had not provided evidence to support its claim that many employees of the agency are members of terrorist organizations.

More than a dozen countries, including the United States, suspended funding to the agency, known as UNRWA, after Israel claimed in January that a dozen agency employees had participated in the Oct. 7 Hamas-led attacks or their aftermath, and that one in 10 staff members in Gaza was a member of Hamas or its ally, Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

The United Nations had commissioned an independent review of the agency in January, before Israel circulated its claims, but those charges gave added significance to the inquiry, whose findings were released on Monday. The report issued a series of recommendations for the agency to protect its neutrality, but said that “Israel has yet to provide supporting evidence” for its accusation that a significant number of agency employees are members of terrorist organizations.

The review did not address Israel’s accusation that 12 of the agency’s 13,000 employees in Gaza had participated in the Oct. 7 attack or its aftermath, a claim that the United Nations says remains under internal investigation. The United Nations has fired 10 of the 12 employees accused by Israel.

Stéphane Dujarric, spokesman for the U.N. secretary general, António Guterres, said on Monday that Mr. Guterres had accepted the report’s recommendations and appealed for donors “to actively support UNRWA, as it is a lifeline for Palestine refugees in the region.”

Caroline Gennez, the minister of development for Belgium, which did not cut off funding to the agency, said that the report showed that UNRWA had “always acted adequately.”

“I call on all donors to resume their support,” she wrote on social media. “Now.”

Ireland’s foreign minister, Micheál Martin, was quoted by the national broadcaster, RTÉ, as saying that he hoped that some countries that had suspended support would now resume it. Ireland, which has strongly condemned Israel’s campaign in Gaza, increased aid to UNRWA as other countries were cutting it, he noted.

“We were very clear from the word go that you could not replace or undermine UNRWA’s role in terms of giving vital aid, teaching, education,” he said.

Among the more than a dozen countries that suspended payments over Israel’s accusations, several — including Australia, Canada and Japan — have already resumed funding UNRWA, citing the spiraling humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza and steps taken by the agency to improve accountability.

The United States has said it would wait for the results of U.N. investigations before deciding whether to resume donations to UNRWA. Matthew Miller, a State Department spokesman, told reporters on Monday that the Biden administration was reviewing the U.N.-commissioned report and had no assessment yet of its conclusions.

“Certainly, we welcome the fact that the secretary-general has accepted the recommendations,” Mr. Miller said, adding that the United States had “long made clear that there needs to be reforms at UNRWA.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called for UNRWA to be closed and replaced “with responsible international aid agencies.” Israel’s Foreign Ministry on Monday called on donor countries to avoid sending money to the organization.

UNRWA has argued that Israel has targeted it with a “deliberate and concerted campaign” to undermine its operations when its services are most needed.

The European Union, one of the largest donors to UNRWA, announced in March that it was substantially increasing funds to the agency, saying that Palestinians were facing terrible conditions and should not be made to pay for Hamas’s crimes.

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