Israel Hasn’t Offered Evidence Tying U.N. Workers to Terrorism, Review Says

Israel has not provided evidence to support its allegations that many employees of the main U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees are members of terrorist organizations, according to an independent review commissioned by the United Nations that was released on Monday.

The review was announced in January, before Israel circulated claims that significant numbers of employees of the agency, known as UNRWA, were members of terrorist groups.

But by the time investigators started working on the review in early February, it had taken on additional significance: Israel had accused about a dozen employees of the agency, which employs about 13,000 Palestinians in Gaza, of involvement in the Oct. 7 Hamas-led attacks on Israel or their aftermath. Israel had also said that one in 10 UNRWA employees in Gaza was a member of Hamas or its ally, Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

Speaking at a news conference at U.N. headquarters in New York on Monday, Catherine Colonna, the former French foreign minister who led the inquiry, said she wanted to be “very clear” that her review did not address the allegations that some UNRWA staff members were involved in the Oct. 7 attacks. That question remains under internal investigation by the U.N.

“It is a separate mission, and it is not in our mandate,” she said.

More than a dozen countries, including the United States, suspended funding to UNRWA in light of the allegations. The United Nations fired 10 of the 12 employees accused in the attack while pleading with donor countries to restore funding at a time when the majority of Gazans depend on the group for food and shelter. It also announced an internal investigation along with the independent external review, which was made public on Monday.

The review said that UNRWA had long shared lists of its employees with Israel, but that the Israeli government had not flagged any concerns about agency employees since 2011.

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