Amidst the ongoing crisis in Gaza, UNRWA — the UN agency for Palestine refugees — faces a new challenge as 12 of its Gaza staff members were accused by Israel of involvement in a Hamas-led incident on 7 October 2023.
Strikingly, these allegations surfaced on the same day the International Court of Justice ordered Israel to boost aid to Gaza as part of measures to prevent genocide.
Despite UNRWA's prompt investigation and termination of the accused employees, major donors — accounting for over three-quarters of the agency's budget — froze contributions in response to the allegations. This move jeopardises the agency's operations in the Middle East, including Gaza, with a potential shutdown by the end of this month if funding doesn't resume.
Withholding funds from UNRWA displays callous indifference to the 2.3 million people in Gaza facing starvation, imminent famine, and disease due to Israel's continued bombardment and deliberate aid deprivation.
Rather than collectively punishing all the Palestinians most in need based on allegations against a handful of individuals, these countries should resume funding, support UNRWA's investigation, and, most importantly, call for a ceasefire to halt the indiscriminate targeting and killing of innocent civilians.