Home World Israel releases names and details of alleged involvement of UNRWA employees in October 7 attacks

Israel releases names and details of alleged involvement of UNRWA employees in October 7 attacks

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Israel released more details on Friday about the 12 employees of the UN’s agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) who it has accused of participating in the October 7 terrorist attacks and kidnappings, including their names, photos and alleged roles with Hamas.

The additional details also included screengrabs of what Israel said were two UNWRA employees – a social worker and math teacher – in Israel on October 7. The defense ministry also provided ID photos of 10 other alleged Hamas members, their positions and alleged involvement in the deadly incursion, but did not provide any supporting evidence to back up their claims.

The surprise Hamas attacks left about 1,200 dead and saw more than 250 others taken hostage.

Israel’s bombardment and ground offensive in response has forcibly displaced at least 1.7 million Palestinians in Gaza – most of whom are now crammed in Rafah, near the border with Egypt. Panic has grown in the city ahead of a looming Israeli ground offensive.

Meanwhile, in the nearby city of Khan Younis, Israeli forces Friday continued a deadly raid of Nasser Hospital, Gaza’s largest functioning medical facility.

Breakdown in relations

Israel’s relations with the United Nations have deteriorated in recent months, after the organization’s senior officials repeatedly condemned the country’s military approach to the war in Gaza.

Last month, Israel presented the United Nations, the United States, and other allies with a dossier that included allegations about these 12 UNRWA employees – out of 13,000 in Gaza – leading more than a dozen countries to suspend funding to the agency, which plays a central role in feeding and sheltering hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in the strip.

UNRWA chief Philippe Lazzarini said a diplomat at Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs briefed him on the dossier in mid-January, but said the agency had not been provided with a copy.

Lazzarini told reporters at a press conference in Jerusalem on February 9 that “I have seen a large dossier in the room that the person had, coming from their own internal intelligence, and he was reading this and translating for me.”

“There were strong allegations, with names and for each of the name[s] associated to a given activity on that day,” Lazzarini said.

UNRWA quickly fired 10 of the 12 staff members accused by Israel of involvement in the October 7 attacks and launched an investigation into the allegations, in hopes of keeping international funding to the agency flowing at a critical time. The UN said two of the 12 had died.

The Israeli government said the social worker was a Hamas operative involved in kidnapping an Israeli soldier from Be’eri and coordinating the transfer of weapons and trucks. It accused the math teacher of holding a “logistical position” in Hamas’s Deir el-Balah battalion and said he was involved in “receiving and holding hostages” and was “seen photographing a female hostage.”

Israel’s allegations against the other UNRWA employees ranged from being identified in Israel on October 7 to assisting in kidnapping Israelis.

“UNRWA has lost legitimacy and can no longer function as a UN body. I have instructed the defense establishment to begin transferring responsibilities related to the delivery of aid, to additional organizations,” Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant told reporters during a briefing on Friday. “UNRWA is deeply embedded in terror activity. The world must see the pictures that I have shown here.”

An UNRWA spokesman said the United Nation’s highest investigative authority is investigating the matter, but declined to comment on the additional details provided by Israel on Friday.

“As long as the investigation is ongoing, UNRWA is not in a position to provide further information on the allegations in question,” the UNRWA spokesman said.

Gallant also alleged that 1,468 UNRWA workers – or about 12% of its Gaza staff – “are known to be active” members of Hamas or Palestinian Islamic Jihad, of which he said 185 are “active in the military branches of Hamas.” He did not provide any evidence to back up his claim.

The UNWRA spokesman said the agency annually shares the names, employee numbers and functions of all staff members with Israel. It said the names shared included the names of the 12 individuals identified by Israel in the dossier, and that Israel had not informed UNRWA of those staffers’ alleged involvement with Hamas prior to January.

An UNRWA spokesman said the agency screens its staff on a biannual basis against the UN Security Council’s sanctions list and said the fact that the October 7th attack went “undetected” by Israel’s intelligence services implies “that all involved, including people who allegedly work for UNRWA, participated illicitly in ways that UNRWA also would have been unable to detect.”

This post appeared first on cnn.com

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