Thank you for contacting me about the UK’s decision to temporarily pause future funding to UNWRA.
I am appalled by allegations that any agency staff were involved in the 7 October attack against Israel, a heinous act of terrorism. I believe it is only right that the UK is pausing any future funding of UNRWA whilst these grave allegations are reviewed. The United States, Germany, Australia, Italy, Canada, Finland, Switzerland and the Netherlands have all temporarily paused funding too.
There are multiple very serious problems with UNRWA.
Concerning reports have emerged that 1,200 UNRWA staff are operatives of Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad or other Gaza-based terror groups; representing 10% of its 12,000 staff in Gaza. 23% of UNRWA’s male employees have ties to Hamas, whilst 49% of UNRWA employees have close relatives who belong to Islamist terror groups, according to The Wall Street Journal this weekend.
At least 12 employees of UNRWA have been linked to Hamas’ 7th October massacre, seven of which were teachers – according to widespread reports based on Israeli intelligence. Six UNRWA employees have been found to have assisted in the massacre of over 1200 people, with their movements established inside of Israel. They include one teacher who was a Hamas commander involved in the massacre at Kibbutz Be’eri, were 97 people were murdered. Two employees helped kidnap Israelis, a school counsellor from Khan Younis, in southern Gaza, who worked with his son to abduct a woman from Israel, and a social worker from Nuseirat who helped bring a body of a dead Israeli soldier to Gaza.
UNRWA workers were also found to have coordinated logistics, procured and distributed weaponry – including an UNRWA teacher seen carrying an antitank missile the night before the 7th October. Other staff had aided terrorist groups, with a maths teacher taking a picture of a female hostage in Gaza and another employee helping to facilitate an operations room for Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) on 8th October.
At least three UNRWA employees are now known to have received text messages ordering them to report to Hamas muster points on 7th October and others have been accused of keeping and facilitating the movements of Israeli hostages across the Gaza Strip after some released hostages testified in Israeli media that they were held separately in captivity by UNRWA workers and transferred via UNRWA facilities to avoid Israeli detection as the IDF advanced.
A Telegram group of 3,000 UNRWA teachers in Gaza celebrated the massacre on 7th October and shared recordings of the heinous acts of terror. In the wake of the massacre, UNRWA teachers reportedly posted messages to social media including “kill them one by one”, “leave none of them behind” and “execute the first [Israeli] on live broadcast”.
Since 7th October, Hamas has reportedly misappropriated more than $1 million worth of UNRWA aid, including fuel and trucks. It is reported some of these aid transfers are co-ordinated, not just Hamas stealing aid.
This is not the first time UNRWA stand accused of facilitating terror: the former head of UNRWA’s Gaza Union was fired in 2017 after it was uncovered that he had been elected to Hamas’ top political leadership. Hamas weapons and tunnels have been consistently found in UNRWA schools and buildings, UNRWA textbooks (approved by the Palestinian Authority) contain materials glorifying terrorism and promoting the hatred of Israel, and as far back as 2004, then-Head of UNRWA Peter Hanson said that some of its workers in the Middle East are members of Hamas.
I want to make clear that the UK remains committed to getting humanitarian aid to the people in Gaza who need it. The Government is getting on with aid delivery, funding multiple implementing partners including other UN agencies and international and UK NGOs. This support is helping people in Gaza get food, water, shelter and medicines.
The commitment to trebling aid to Gaza still stands and the UK is providing £60 million in humanitarian assistance to support partners including the British Red Cross, UNICEF, the UN World Food Programme and Egyptian Red Crescent Society to respond to critical food, fuel, water, health, shelter and security needs in Gaza.
Indeed, the UK will continue to support the United Nations World Food Programme to deliver a new humanitarian land corridor from Jordan into Gaza. 750 tonnes of life-saving food aid arrived in the first delivery and 315 tonnes in the second delivery.
The UK of course also continues to call for a humanitarian pause now to allow humanitarian actors and Gazans to operate and move safely, and enable hostages to be released.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.
Craig Whittaker MP