(United Nations) No organization can “replace” the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA), which Israel accuses of “hiding terrorists” in order to help the population of the Gaza Strip, said warned a senior UN official on Tuesday.
“There is in no way an organization capable of replacing or substituting for the enormous capacity and fabric of UNRWA, and its knowledge of the population of Gaza,” the humanitarian coordinator of UNRWA told the press. the UN for the territory, Sigrid Kaag.
She was speaking at UN headquarters in New York after a closed-door meeting of the Security Council.
In the Gaza Strip, a Palestinian territory completely besieged by Israel and in the grip of a major humanitarian crisis, entire neighborhoods were destroyed by bombings which pushed 1.7 million of the 2.4 million inhabitants to flee their homes, according to the UN.
But UNRWA’s civilian aid operations have been under threat since last weekend after Israel accused 12 of its 30,000 regional employees of involvement in the bloody October 7 attack carried out by the Palestinian movement Hamas. .
The Israeli government accused the UN agency on Tuesday of being “fundamentally compromised”, in particular by letting Hamas “use its infrastructure” to carry out its military activities and “hide terrorists”.
The agency also “massively hired terrorists” among its 13,000 employees in Gaza and “relied on Hamas for the distribution of aid,” government spokesperson Eylon Levy said in a video .
“About 10% of employees are members of Hamas and Islamic Jihad,” the other major Islamist movement in Gaza, and “around 50% are first-degree relatives of these members,” he said.
He did not provide evidence to support these accusations, which the AFP was not able to verify.
The accusations made by Israel came shortly after a long-awaited decision by the International Court of Justice, the highest court of the UN, which on Friday called on Israel to prevent possible acts of “genocide” in Gaza and to “ take immediate action” to enable the provision of humanitarian aid.
” Crucial “
Twelve countries – including the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Japan – announced the suspension of their aid to UNRWA.
A closed-door meeting of these major donors is scheduled for Tuesday at 5 p.m. at UN headquarters in New York, at the initiative of Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, to try to maintain funding for the organization.
“Without this funding, the outlook for UNRWA and the millions of people it helps is very bleak,” Guterres spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric said on Monday.
Unrwa dismissed most of the employees concerned and promised an investigation.
“Any employee involved in an act of terror will be held responsible, including through criminal prosecution,” assured the spokesperson for the UN chief.
In Washington, the State Department deemed it all the more “important” in this context of turmoil that the agency conduct a thorough investigation, demand accountability and ensure that it takes “all other necessary measures to ensure that this kind things don’t happen again.”
Israel’s ally, the United States, also the agency’s main donor, has not withdrawn its support, deeming the work of Unwra “crucial” for the delivery of humanitarian aid.
“There is no other humanitarian actor in Gaza that can provide food, water and medicine on the scale of UNRWA,” said the State Department spokesperson, Matthew Miller.
He specified that the United States had released “121 million dollars” for UNRWA since the start of the fiscal year (as of 1er October) and suspended a next payment of $300,000 on Friday.
The official was not able to say how much remained to be paid but recalled that the United States released between “300 to 400 million dollars per year” to finance UNRWA.