The Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWAOn Saturday, Philippe Lazzarini suspended several countries’ funding of the agency, which was “shocking” against the backdrop of the Israeli government accusing some of its employees of involvement in an attack.Al-Aqsa floodlaunched by the Islamic Resistance Movement ( agitation) on October 7, calling on these countries to reverse their decisions.
“It is shocking to see the agency’s funding suspended in response to allegations against a small group of employees,” Lazzarini said in a statement, especially in light of the measures taken by the UN agency on which “more than two million people depend for their survival.”
He stressed that “these decisions threaten the humanitarian work currently underway in the region, especially in Gaza,” and stressed that the Palestinians in Gaza did not need this additional collective punishment.
Lazzarini had previously pledged to hold accountable any employee of the agency, including through criminal prosecution, found to be involved in “terrorist acts.”
This comes at a time when Germany joined 8 other countries that decided to suspend its funding in the wake of Israel accusing employees of the UN agency of involvement in the October 7 attack: Australia, Canada, Finland, Italy, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Britain, and the United States.
The German Foreign Ministry said in a statement that as long as the accusation is not clarified, “Germany, in agreement with other donor countries,” will refrain for the time being from agreeing to provide more resources.
Commenting on this, the United Nations rapporteur on the right to housing, Balakrishnan Rajagopal, told Al Jazeera that some countries’ suspension of funding for UNRWA is collective punishment for the residents of Gaza, stressing that a people cannot be punished because of the alleged mistakes of individuals in the agency.
For his part, Martin Griffiths, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, said that the people of Gaza are suffering from unimaginable horrors and deprivation, and the time is not right to let them down.
On Saturday, Hamas denounced the Israeli “threats” against UNRWA and other international organizations, and called on “the United Nations and international institutions not to give in to the threats and blackmails” of Israel.
In return, Israel said that it would seek to prevent UNRWA from working in the Gaza Strip after the end of the war.
Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz wrote on the X platform on Saturday that the Foreign Ministry aims to ensure that “UNRWA will not be part of the phase” that follows the war, adding that he will seek to mobilize support from the United States, the European Union and other major donors.
Later, Katz said in a statement, “In the Gaza reconstruction phase, UNRWA should be replaced by agencies devoting its work to peace and development,” calling on more donors to suspend their funding.
UNRWA responded by dismissing a number of its employees against the backdrop of Israeli accusations, and pledged to conduct a comprehensive investigation, while Israel confirmed that it would seek to prevent the UN agency from working in the Gaza Strip after the end of the war.
The Secretary-General of the United Nations pledged António Guterres Conducting an “independent, urgent and comprehensive review of UNRWA,” according to its spokesman Stephane Dujarric.