One is accused of kidnapping a lady. One other is alleged to have distributed ammunition. A 3rd was stated to have taken half within the kibbutz bloodbath that killed 97 folks. And all are stated to be workers of the United Nations assist company that educates, shelters and feeds tons of of hundreds of Palestinians within the Gaza Strip.
The allegations are included in a file offered to the US authorities detailing Israel’s claims in opposition to a dozen United Nations Aid and Works Company workers it says performed a task within the Hamas assaults on Israel on October 7 or of their aftermath.
The UN stated on Friday it had fired a number of workers after being knowledgeable of the allegations. However little was identified concerning the allegations till the file was reviewed by The New York Occasions on Sunday.
The accusations have prompted eight nations, together with the USA, to droop some assist funds to UNRWA, because the group is understood, even because the struggle plunges Palestinians in Gaza right into a determined state of affairs. Greater than 26,000 folks have been killed there and practically two million displaced, based on Gaza and UN officers.
UNRWA staff have been accused of serving to Hamas arrange the assault that sparked the struggle in Gaza, or within the days that adopted. About 1,200 folks in Israel had been killed that day, Israeli officers say, and about 240 had been kidnapped and brought to Gaza.
On Sunday, United Nations Secretary-Common António Guterres described himself as “shocked by these allegations” and famous that 9 of the 12 accused workers had been fired. However Mr Guterres implored nations that had suspended assist funds to rethink. UNRWA is without doubt one of the largest employers in Gaza, using 13,000 folks, primarily Palestinians.
Requested about Israel’s allegations on Sunday, UNRWA stated two of the 12 workers had been useless however couldn’t present extra data whereas the UN Workplace for Inside Oversight Companies was nonetheless investigating.
Two Western officers confirmed on situation of anonymity that they’d been briefed on the contents of the file in latest days, however stated they’d been unable to confirm the main points. Though the USA itself has but to substantiate the Israeli claims, American officers say they discovered them credible sufficient to justify suspending assist.
The Occasions verified the identification of one of many 12 staff, a warehouse supervisor, whose social media profile lists him as an UNRWA worker and reveals him sporting UN-branded clothes.
The Israeli file, offered to US officers on Friday, lists the names and positions of UNRWA workers and the accusations in opposition to them.
The file acknowledged that Israeli intelligence officers had decided the actions of six of the boys inside Israel on October 7 from their telephones; others had been monitored as they made telephone calls in Gaza, discussing, the Israelis say, their involvement within the Hamas assault.
Three others obtained textual content messages telling them to report back to assortment factors on Oct. 7, and one was advised to take rocket-propelled grenades saved at his residence, based on the submitting.
The Israelis described ten of the staff as members of Hamas, the militant group that managed Gaza on the time of the October 7 assault. One other is alleged to have ties to a different militant group, Islamic Jihad.
But seven of the suspects are additionally believed to be academics at UNRWA faculties, educating college students topics reminiscent of arithmetic and Arabic. Two others labored on the faculties in different capacities. The remaining three had been described as a clerk, a social employee and the warehouse supervisor.
Probably the most detailed allegations within the file involved a college counselor from Khan Younis, southern Gaza, who’s accused of working along with his son to kidnap a lady from Israel.
A social employee from Nuseirat, in central Gaza, is accused of serving to carry the physique of a useless Israeli soldier to Gaza, distributing ammunition and coordinating automobiles on the day of the assault.
The Israeli accusations come in opposition to the backdrop of decades-long conflicts with UNRWA. Since 1949, the group has cared for the households of Palestinians who fled or had been pushed from their houses through the wars surrounding the institution of the State of Israel.
The group supplies important help to greater than 5 million Palestinian refugees throughout the Center East, whose future and standing have by no means been resolved regardless of years of negotiations.
However for critics, together with many Israelis, the company is an impediment to resolving the battle. Its existence, they are saying, prevents Palestinian refugees from integrating into new communities and fuels their desires of sooner or later returning to what’s now Israel — a objective that Israel says it should by no means permit. And in Gaza, Israel argues, UNRWA has fallen below the affect of Hamas, a declare the group rejects.
This isn’t the primary time the USA has reduce off funding to the UN company. The Trump administration has suspended assist as a part of its efforts to strain Palestinian leaders to cease demanding that refugees be allowed to return to Israel.
However the present menace to its funding is taken into account essentially the most severe in historical past as a result of it comes at a time of disaster for Gaza.
Amid warnings of famine, the collapse of the healthcare system and the mass displacement of the Palestinian inhabitants, UNRWA’s work is taken into account extra essential than ever. It helps coordinate the distribution of the help – nevertheless meager – that arrives in southern Gaza each day, and the colleges home greater than one million Gazans, based on company statistics.
The suspension of funding might be felt rapidly. In contrast to different UN companies, UNRWA has no strategic monetary reserve. On Sunday, Mr Guterres stated companies could should be lowered from February.
A day earlier, the company’s commissioner basic, Philippe Lazzarini, warned of an impending disaster.
“It will be grossly irresponsible to sanction an company and a complete group it serves over allegations of felony acts in opposition to some people, particularly at a time of struggle, displacement and political crises within the area,” he stated.
“The lives of individuals in Gaza rely upon this help, and so does regional stability,” Mr Lazzarini stated.
The State Division on Friday acknowledged the essential humanitarian position performed by UNRWA, however stated it was suspending its funding whereas it reviewed each the allegations and the company’s response to them.
Israeli officers themselves nervous on Sunday about whether or not their accusations may in the end make their very own place tougher, based on three officers concerned within the dialogue. A collapse within the supply of companies to Gaza may pressure Israel to tackle a better position in assist distribution – a task it doesn’t need.
Studies of the allegations in opposition to the help staff got here on the identical day that the Worldwide Courtroom of Justice issued an interim ruling on genocide allegations made by South Africa in opposition to Israel. The courtroom ordered Israel to take motion to forestall genocide by its forces in Gaza and permit extra assist to the world.
Reporting was contributed by Johnatan Reiss, Julian E. Barnes, Gabby Sobelman And Myra Noveck.