We oppose axing UNRWA mid-war, senior Israeli official says amid global funding halt

We oppose axing UNRWA mid-war, senior Israeli official says amid global funding halt

The Times of Israel reports:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government does not support the immediate discontinuation of UNRWA, a senior Israeli official said on Tuesday as a host of Western countries moved to suspend funding for the UN relief agency for Palestinians amid allegations that roughly a dozen of its employees took part in Hamas’s October 7 terror onslaught and hundreds more are either operatives or have close ties with members.

“If UNRWA ceases operating on the ground, this could cause a humanitarian catastrophe that would force Israel to halt its fighting against Hamas,” the senior Israeli official said, briefing The Times of Israel on condition of anonymity. “This would not be in Israel’s interest and it would not be in the interest of Israel’s allies either.”

This is the first time a message defending UNRWA’s continued operation has been voiced by an Israeli official since the UN agency announced Friday that it had terminated the contracts of several employees after receiving evidence from Israel that they participated in the October 7 attacks during which some 1,200 — mostly civilians — were massacred and 253 were taken hostage into Gaza.

UNRWA said it was launching an independent investigation into the matter. But this did not stop the United States — the agency’s leading donor — from announcing that it was suspending all additional funding to the organization pending the investigation. Over a dozen countries around the globe followed suit including Germany, Italy, France, the UK, Australia, Japan, and Canada, leading UNRWA to announce Monday that the organization was at risk of having to cease operations in Gaza by the end of February if funding doesn’t resume.

The senior Israeli official clarified that Jerusalem supports the decision made by countries to suspend their funding and stressed that every UNRWA staffer “involved in terror activity must be held accountable.” [Continue reading…]

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