A number of countries, including both the UK and USA, have suspended aid payments to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).
The suspensions come just two days after the International Court of Justice (ICJ) issued an interim declaration that Israel should avoid actions that could lead to genocide against the Palestinian people.
The allegations levelled at UNRWA employees are that up to twelve people employed by the organisation were involved in assisting the Hamas attack on 7th October. No details of exactly what they are supposed to have done have been released. UNRWA immediately sacked the individuals concerned.
The accusations were levelled by Israel. “UNRWA will not be a part of the day after,” Israel’s Foreign Minister Israel Katz said on XTwitter, adding that he would try to gather support from the US, EU and other major donors to the agency. He has previously accused UNRWA of being a Hamas sympathiser.
UNRWA has a budget of $1.7 bn a year. The US contributes $334 million, the U.K. $22 million. Together these amount to almost one-third of its funding.
The funding is used to provide 5 million Palestinian refugees with education, health support, food and the means to live some sort of dignified life.
The UK Government issued a statement saying: “The UK is appalled by allegations that UNRWA staff were involved in the 7 October attack against Israel, a heinous act of terrorism that the UK Government has repeatedly condemned. The UK is temporarily pausing any future funding of UNRWA whilst we review these concerning allegations. We remain committed to getting humanitarian aid to the people in Gaza who desperately need it.”
The Labour Party is uncharacteristically quiet. Lisa Nandy, Shadow Cabinet Minister for International Development, tweeted: “Allegations this serious demand a serious response. As the UK rightly ensures our aid is never used to support terrorism, we are seeking urgent discussions with Ministers to ensure ordinary Gazans can access aid. The humanitarian crisis in Gaza cannot wait.” She failed to notice that the UK was supplying weapons to Israel to carry out what the International Court of Justice has referred to as genocidal acts.
Meanwhile Labour MP Kate Osamor was forced to apologise and has had the whip removed, after sending an email to local party members reminding them to remember Holocaust Day and adding, “more recent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and now Gaza.”
This is not the first time that the Israelis have made unsubstantiated claims widely repeated in western media. There was the claim that a misfiring Hamas rocket had hit a hospital. There were claims that babies had been bayoneted. There were the claims of a Hamas control centre in hospitals. There was, clearly faked, video of arms caches. There were the pristine copies of Mein Kampf allegedly found in Palestinian homes.
Then there is documented truth. Israelis killing women and children. Israelis shooting down three hostages holding a white flag. Israelis stripping Palestinian prisoners naked. Israelis using indiscriminate bombing in hospitals, refugee camps and civilian areas.
Most of the political establishment in the west has refused to condemn Israel and was incredibly quiet on the ICJ ruling, beyond stating that they did not agree with it. Accomplices to crimes rarely do.
The people in the west, on the other hand, continue to march, petition and demonstrate their support for the Palestinian people. It is rare that the political class and those they rely on for support are so divided. A poll conducted by YouGov in December for Medical Aid For Palestine found 71% supported an immediate ceasefire.
Socialist of many years. Former Labour member. Currently presenter of The Socialist Hour.