update deskIsrael at War

Gallant: 30 UNRWA employees participated in Oct. 7 massacre

The Israel defense minister told journalists that 1,468 of UNRWA’s 13,000 staff members in Gaza are members of Hamas or Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant speaks with Israeli soldiers at a staging area not far from the border with the Gaza Strip, Oct. 19, 2023. Photo by Chaim Goldberg/Flash90.
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant speaks with Israeli soldiers at a staging area not far from the border with the Gaza Strip, Oct. 19, 2023. Photo by Chaim Goldberg/Flash90.

Yoav Gallant, the Israeli defense minister, told journalists that the Jewish state has intelligence showing that 30 employees of the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) took part in Hamas’s Oct. 7 terror attack on Israel.

The minister shared the names and photos of 12 UNRWA employees, whom Israel had previously said took part in the Oct. 7 attack, in the press briefing. The 12 include Faisal al-Naami, an UNRWA social worker who Israel says was visually identified in Israeli territory on Oct. 7 and was involved in kidnapping a soldier from the town of Be’eri.

Another, Ala Jouda, is an UNRWA Arabic religion teacher who is also a company commander in Hamas’s Nuseirat Battalion. He was arrested in Israeli territory.

According to Gallant, 1,468 of UNRWA’s 13,000 staff members in Gaza are members of Hamas or Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

Israel first reported in January that 12 UNRWA employees had taken part in the Oct. 7 attacks. That prompted 15 countries, including the United States, to announce that they were cutting off funding to the aid agency.

In response to the allegations, the United Nations launched an independent “review group” to assess whether UNRWA is maintaining its neutrality and responding appropriately to alleged breaches of that neutrality.

UNRWA critics told JNS that the panel, which includes organizations that praised South Africa’s claim that Israel is committing genocide, is inadequate to fix the problems with UNRWA.

“This is a farce, a desperate scheme to save UNRWA,” said Rich Goldberg, a senior adviser at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, who studies international organizations.

“The United Nations does not recognize Hamas or Islamic Jihad as terrorist organizations, and this secretary-general has proven himself biased against Israel,” Goldberg told JNS. “UNRWA’s time has come to an end. The only reform that will protect U.S. taxpayers is ending UNRWA.”

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