The U.S. State Department’s move comes in the wake of UN’s admission and subsequent dismissal of several staff members.
The United States announced on Friday the suspension of its funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), a humanitarian organization aiding Palestinians.
This decision follows allegations of the involvement of 12 UNRWA employees in the Hamas terror attacks in Israel on October 7, Jewish Insider reported.
The U.S. State Department’s move comes in the wake of UNRWA’s admission and subsequent dismissal of several staff members. This action was taken after Israel provided the agency with evidence linking these individuals to the terror attacks.
UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini said in a statement:
“The Israeli Authorities have provided UNRWA with information about the alleged involvement of several UNRWA employees in the horrific attacks on Israel on 7 October.
“To protect the Agency’s ability to deliver humanitarian assistance, I have taken the decision to immediately terminate the contracts of these staff members and launch an investigation in order to establish the truth without delay. Any UNRWA employee who was involved in acts of terror will be held accountable, including through criminal prosecution.
“UNRWA reiterates its condemnation in the strongest possible terms of the abhorrent attacks of 7 October and calls for the immediate and unconditional release of all Israeli hostages and their safe return to their families.
“These shocking allegations come as more than 2 million people in Gaza depend on lifesaving assistance that the Agency has been providing since the war began. Anyone who betrays the fundamental values of the United Nations also betrays those whom we serve in Gaza, across the region and elsewhere around the world”.
The Biden regime, traditionally a strong backer of UNRWA, expressed its grave concerns over these allegations.
State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said in a statement:
The United States is extremely troubled by the allegations that twelve UNRWA employees may have been involved in the October 7 Hamas terrorist attack on Israel. The Department of State has temporarily paused additional funding for UNRWA while we review these allegations and the steps the United Nations is taking to address them.
Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken spoke with United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres on January 25 to emphasize the necessity of a thorough and swift investigation of this matter. We welcome the decision to conduct such an investigation and Secretary General Guterres’ pledge to take decisive action to respond, should the allegations prove accurate. We also welcome the UN’s announcement of a “comprehensive and independent” review of UNRWA. There must be complete accountability for anyone who participated in the heinous attacks of October 7.
UNRWA plays a critical role in providing lifesaving assistance to Palestinians, including essential food, medicine, shelter, and other vital humanitarian support. Their work has saved lives, and it is important that UNRWA address these allegations and take any appropriate corrective measures, including reviewing its existing policies and procedures.
The United States has reached out to the Government of Israel to seek more information about these allegations, and we have briefed Members of Congress. We will remain in close contact with the United Nations and Government of Israel regarding this matter.
On Capitol Hill, the news has caused a stir, with Rep. Mike Waltz (R-FL) insisting on an immediate cessation of U.S. contributions to UNRWA until a comprehensive and independent inquiry is conducted.
“This rot is deep and the U.S. should immediately pause all funding to UNRWA until an independent investigation is carried out,” Waltz wrote on X.
Last month I sent a letter to the UN urging them to investigate these claims.— Rep. Mike Waltz (@michaelgwaltz) January 26, 2024
This rot is deep and the U.S. should immediately pause all funding to UNRWA until an independent investigation is carried out. https://t.co/A0FAg4gpbF
According to Jewish Insider, an Israeli journalist reported in December about a claim from one of the Israeli hostages, alleging that a UNRWA teacher was among their captors. At that time, UNRWA urged caution against making “unverified claims,” warning against potential misinformation.
Last year, America First Legal (AFL), headed by former Trump Senior Advisor Stephen Miller, won a “key procedural victory in its lawsuit to stop the Biden Administration from violating the Taylor Force Act by subsidizing terrorism with American tax dollars.”
The small but meaningful victory in the case, brought by Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-TX) and others, will give AFL expedited discovery that could uncover US aid intended for Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank being unlawfully used to indirectly benefit terrorism. The State Department describes the funding as being at a “high risk” of benefiting Hamas.
This would be a violation of the Taylor Force Act. The 2017 legislation was intended to “cut some aid to Palestinians until they end stipends for terror convicts and families of slain attackers” according to The Times of Israel.
AFL’s brief, filed in August 2023 before the atrocious Hamas attack last weekend, alleges that a FOIA’d production from the Department of State includes “a license application to the Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) seeking authorization to conduct official US Government activities in the West Bank and Gaza that might otherwise be prohibited by counterterrorism sanctions regulations.”