A key Israeli intelligence dossier used by countries to justify defunding the primary aid group for Palestinian refugees contains “no evidence” to back up Israel’s allegations against the group, new reports have found.
U.K. broadcaster Channel 4 obtained a copy of the six-page document in which Israeli officials alleged that a dozen of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees’s (UNRWA) 30,000 employees were involved in the October 7 attack led by Hamas. The allegations made in the document, originating from the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), have spurred 16 countries so far to suspend funding to the UNRWA, even as humanitarian groups warn that this will only further Israel’s genocide.
In a report this week, Channel 4 reported that, despite being used by many countries to justify withdrawing aid amid horrific conditions in Gaza and risk complicity in genocide, the document actually “provides no evidence to support its explosive new claim that UNRWA staff were involved.”
Other reports from outlets that also viewed the dossier such as The Daily Beast have similarly concluded that the dossier has “little evidence” to substantiate IDF’s allegations.
Aside from the allegations in the dossier — which came from a country whose leaders have long sought to destroy UNRWA — there appears to be little other evidence for the allegations so far; despite the U.S. being the first country to suspend its funding to the agency last month, Secretary of State Antony Blinken even outright admitted in a recent press conference that U.S. officials haven’t attempted to independently verify the allegations, even as he called them “highly, highly credible.”
The funding suspension is happening despite the seemingly unverified allegations involving only a small fraction of UNRWA staff, and with the UN and the agency working to target and root out any potential staff that had ties to the Hamas attack. The UN has appointed an independent panel to look into the claims, and the UNRWA has already fired at least nine of the accused workers.
The UNRWA appears to take the allegations seriously enough, in fact, that it was the UNRWA itself that originally reported them to U.S. officials, according to a New York Times report published over the weekend.
Israeli officials were reportedly shocked that the information had even gotten out to foreign officials, the report finds: “Israel has made so many accusations against UNRWA over the years that no one expected this claim to be the one that stuck, the [Israeli Foreign Ministry] official said,” The New York Times reported.
Humanitarian groups and UNRWA officials have said that the allegations must be taken seriously, but it is unconscionable to cut off funding to the entire agency, a lifeline for some 6 million Palestinians, as a result. This is especially important, experts say, as Israel is under orders by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to prevent genocide in Gaza.
The suspension “is a violation of international humanitarian law, it’s a violation of international principles, it’s a violation of the ruling by the ICJ which says nobody should squeeze international humanitarian aid … and it’s a violation, arguably, of the genocide convention because it will devastate the lives of 1.2 million people who were on UNRWA’s food lines even before the 7th of October,” said former UNRWA spokesperson Christopher Gunness on Channel 4. “And that’s going to get longer — it will, undoubtedly, if unsuspended, lead to mass starvation.”
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