The head of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees has said he followed “reverse due process” in sacking nine staff members accused by Israel of being involved in Hamas’s 7 October attacks.
Philippe Lazzarini, UNRWA’s commissioner general, said he did not probe Israel’s claims against the employees before dismissing them and launching an investigation.
At a press conference in Jerusalem, Lazzarini was asked if he had looked into whether there was any evidence against the employees and he replied: “No, the investigation is going on now.”
He described the decision as “reverse due process”, adding: “I could have suspended them, but I have fired them. And now I have an investigation, and if the investigation tells us that this was wrong, in that case at the UN we will take a decision on how to properly compensate [them].”
Lazzarini said he made the “exceptional, swift decision” to terminate the contracts of the staff members due to the explosive nature of the claims. He added that the agency was already facing “fierce and ugly attacks” at a time when it was providing aid to nearly 2 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.
“Indeed, I have terminated without due process because I felt at the time that not only the reputation but the ability of the entire agency to continue to operate and deliver critical humanitarian assistance was at stake if I did not take such a decision,” he said.
“My judgment, based on this going public, true or untrue, was I need to take the swiftest and boldest decision to show that as an agency we take this allegation seriously.” [Continue reading…]