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US intelligence casts doubt on Israel’s accusations against UNRWA

People walk past the damaged Gaza City headquarters of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) on 15 February, 2024. (Photo by AFP)

A US intelligence assessment has cast doubt on Israel’s accusations against the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), citing the regime’s bias against the UN agency.

A National Intelligence Council (NIC) report released last week assessed with “low confidence” that a handful of UNRWA staffers had taken part in the October 7 operation launched by Hamas resistance movement against the occupying entity.

The four-page intelligence report indicated that the NIC could not independently confirm the allegations. 

Earlier this year, the Israeli regime claimed that 12 employees of the UNRWA were involved in the attack.

Tel Aviv also alleged that 10% of all UNRWA’s 12,000 workers have links to Hamas.

Noting that UNRWA does coordinate with Hamas, which governs Gaza, in order to deliver aid and operate in the besieged strip, the NIC said there was a lack of evidence to suggest that the UN agency was collaborating with the resistance movement in a wider way.  

The NIC report added that Israel has not “shared the raw intelligence behind its assessments with the US.”

The Wall Street Journal cited two sources familiar with the report as saying that it highlighted Israel’s dislike towards the UNRWA.

“There is a specific section that mentions how Israeli bias serves to mischaracterize much of their assessments on UNRWA and says this has resulted in distortions,” one source told the WSJ.

Last week, Philippe Lazzarini, the commissioner general of the UNRWA, said Israel was waging a concerted campaign aimed at destroying the main UN agency in the besieged Gaza Strip.

“It is believed that if the aid agency is abolished, the status of the Palestinian refugees will be resolved once and for all -- and with it, the right of return,” Lazzarini told the Swiss newspaper group Tamedia.

The regime’s allegations against UNRWA, which were not publicly backed by evidence, have prompted more than 10 donor countries, including the United States, Germany, the European Union, Canada, and Japan, to suspend financial support.

The funding from these countries makes up the bulk of all funding received by the UN agency.

UNRWA said being cut off in this way means the agency will run out of money altogether within weeks.

"The grossly disproportionate decision to suspend funding by some of the largest donor states defies the basic principle of humanity, and goes against states’ commitment to leave no one behind," several UN experts said in a statement earlier this month.

Nearly the entire population of Gaza now relies on UNRWA for basics, including food, water, and hygiene supplies.

Since the regime started its war on Gaza in early October, 1.9 million people – 85 percent of Gaza’s population – have been internally displaced.

Israel launched the war on Gaza on October 7 after the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas waged the surprise Operation Al-Aqsa Storm against the occupying entity in response to the Israeli regime's decades-long campaign of bloodletting and devastation against Palestinians.

Since the start of the offensive, the Tel Aviv regime has killed at least 29,410 Palestinians and injured more than 69,465 others.

Thousands more are also missing and presumed dead under the rubble in Gaza, which is under “complete siege” by Israel.

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