A recently revealed Israeli intelligence dossier has sent shockwaves through international circles, resulting in several countries suspending funds for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA). The six-page document, seen by Reuters, levels serious accusations against some UNRWA staff, alleging their involvement in abductions and killings during the October 7 raid that triggered the Gaza war.
The six-page dossier claims that approximately 190 UNRWA employees, including teachers, have allegedly taken on dual roles as members of Hamas or Islamic Jihad militants. Strikingly, the document also provides names and pictures for 11 of them. The allegations suggest a deeply concerning intertwining of UNRWA personnel with armed factions in the region, raising questions about the agency’s neutrality.
UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric stated on Monday that the United Nations has not formally received a copy of the dossier. This revelation has sparked debates regarding the credibility of the accusations and the necessity for an impartial investigation into the claims made by Israeli intelligence.
In response to the dossier, the Palestinian authorities have vehemently accused Israel of fabricating information to smear UNRWA’s reputation. UNRWA, in turn, asserts that it has taken the allegations seriously, already terminating the employment of some staffers, and is investigating the allegations. The allegations, if substantiated, could have profound implications for UNRWA’s operations, reputation, and the delivery of essential services to Palestinian refugees. The agency plays a crucial role in providing education, healthcare, and humanitarian aid to millions of people in Palestine in need.
The dossier also stated that one of the 11 individuals is a counsellor of a school who helped his son kidnap a woman during the attacks by Hamas in which Israel says the killing of 1200 people and the kidnapping of 253 people took place. It further says that another individual is a UNRWA social worker who is accused of unspecified involvement in the transfer to Gaza of a slain Israeli soldier’s corpse.
It also accuses the social worker of coordinating the movements of pick-up trucks that were used by the raiders and of weapons supplies. The dossier goes on further accusing another Palestinian of taking part in a rampage in the Israeli border village Beeri. Here one-tenth of the residents were killed. The fourth one is accused of taking part in an attack on Reim, the site both of an army base that was overrun and also a rave where over 360 revellers died.
The Foreign Minister Israel Katz said, “UNRWA employees participated in the massacre of October 7. Lazzarini should draw conclusions and resign.” Meanwhile, the Prime Minister of Palestine, Mohammad Shtayyeh accused Israel of doing a ‘premeditated political attack’ on UNRWA. It has also criticized the agency and called for restoration of aid funds.
The controversy adds another layer of complexity to the longstanding Israeli-Palestinian conflict, raising concerns about the potential impact on the humanitarian efforts crucial for the well-being of Palestinian refugees in the region.