Israeli defense minister: 'dozens' of UNRWA staff took part in Hamas’ Oct 7 massacre

 In an interview with Fox News Digital this week, Gallant said the country had information that "dozens" of UNRWA staff were involved in the Hamas-led genocide. Although he declined to give a specific figure, Gallant said it far exceeds the number of 12 employees the organization has already acknowledged — and dismissed — last month.

The defense chief, who is a member of Israel's War Cabinet and considered the highest-ranking official after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, called UNRWA a "reinvented Hamas", saying it was now time for the world to "abolish UNRWA" and It's time to make a choice. Mechanism to provide assistance to civilians in the war-torn Gaza Strip.

"I think the world needs to wake up and address the needs of Gaza as well as address this issue in a different way," Gallant told Fox News Digital. “UNRWA is a group of terrorists that receives salaries from many countries – these countries paid people who raped, murdered and held people captive.”

On October 7, thousands of Palestinians led by militants from Hamas' elite Nuqba force broke through the border fence from the Gaza Strip and attacked several military bases as well as towns, villages, killing more than 1,200 people. At a music festival taking place in the area. In addition, approximately 240 individuals, including infants, children, women and the elderly, were taken hostage back to Gaza. Even after almost four months, more than 100 people are still held hostage.

The minister highlighted that many of those killed or abducted had dual Israeli and US citizenship.

Last month, UNRWA, which receives billions of dollars in funding from countries including the US and the EU, acknowledged previous Israeli revelations that 12 of its workers were directly involved in the deadly violence.

The organization's commissioner-general, Philippe Lazzarini, said at the time that he had "decided to immediately terminate the contracts of these staff members and launch an investigation to establish the truth without further delay."

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"Any UNRWA employee who was involved in terrorist acts will be held accountable, including through criminal prosecution," Lazzarini said in a statement. He acknowledged that "Israeli officials had provided information to UNRWA."

Following Lazzarini's announcement, at least 19 donor countries, including the US, halted their funding to the organization. On Tuesday, the House Foreign Affairs Committee voted 30-19 to advance a bill to permanently cut all US aid to UNRWA in response to the allegations.

However, there has been some opposition against halting UNRWA's funding, especially at this critical stage when the organization, as well as other nonprofits working inside Gaza, say a serious humanitarian crisis threatens the thousands of people living there. , who have been forced to leave their homes during this period. Four months of fighting has destroyed the health care system and other essential infrastructure.

Despite its past and present controversies, UNRWA and its Commissioner-General were this week shortlisted for the Nobel Peace Prize.

On Monday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres appointed a committee to look into what he said were "alleged violations of the rules, regulations and code of conduct for UN staff." Under the leadership of former French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonnade, with the assistance of three international research organizations, the Raoul Wallenberg Institute in Sweden, Chr. The committee, led by the Michelsen Institute in Norway and the Danish Institute for Human Rights, will begin its work next week and is expected to deliver an interim report sometime in March. The final report is expected to be completed by the end of April.

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A spokesperson for UNRWA told Fox News Digital that to date "the Israeli government has officially informed UNRWA about only 12 employees allegedly involved in the October 7 attack against Israel."

"This took place at a meeting between Israeli officials and the UNRWA Commissioner General on January 18," the spokesperson said. "No additional information has been shared directly or indirectly by the Israeli government or officially to UNRWA since then," he said.

Israel has long claimed that UNRWA, which was established in 1949 to provide shelter, welfare and health services to thousands of Palestinians displaced when Israel was created, perpetuates the decades-old conflict. It points out that Palestinian refugees are the only group afforded their own separate aid agency – while refugees from almost every other global conflict past and present are cared for under the broad umbrella of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees – and The only nation where refugee status is inherited.

Israel has also repeatedly highlighted that UNRWA's education system allows anti-Semitism to be taught to hundreds of thousands of Palestinian students in its schools in Gaza, the West Bank and the Arab countries where it operates. In January, UN Watch, an NGO that monitors UN bias against Israel, published messages celebrating the October 7 massacre that were shared in a social media group made up of approximately 3,000 UNRWA school teachers. I went.

One of the largest agencies of the United Nations, UNRWA employs more than 30,000 individuals worldwide and operates from two main headquarters located in Amman, Jordan and Gaza. According to its latest figures, approximately 5.9 million Palestinian refugees are eligible to receive UNRWA's services and its annual budget for 2022 was more than $1 billion. Ninety percent of that funding comes from UN member states, with the US, Germany and the EU being the largest donors.

Speaking to his Cabinet members last week, Netanyahu said that evidence that some UNRWA staff "took part in the atrocities and kidnappings on October 7... only reinforces what we have known for a long time - UNRWA is not part of the solution, it is part of the problem."

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