The noose is tightening around the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA). After the United States on Friday, it is the turn of Italy, Australia and Canada to announce, on Saturday January 27, the suspension of their funding of the institution. The statements come after accusations by Israel that UNRWA employees may have been involved in the bloody Hamas attack on October 7.

On Saturday, Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong said she was “deeply concerned” about the accusations against UNRWA. “We are talking with our partners and will temporarily suspend the payment of recent funding,” she wrote on the social network UNRWA after the atrocious Hamas attack on Israel on October 7.” “We are committed to providing humanitarian aid to the Palestinian population, protecting the security of Israel,” he assured.

For his part, the head of Israeli diplomacy, Israel Katz, affirmed on Saturday that Israel intends to “ensure that UNRWA will not be part” of the solution in Gaza after the war between Israel and Hamas, hoping “ cease” all agency activities.

The day before, Friday, the United States, the main contributors to UNRWA, announced that it was “temporarily” suspending all additional funding to the UN agency. In a statement, US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said the United States is “extremely concerned by accusations that twelve UNRWA employees may have been involved in the attack.” The head of American diplomacy, Antony Blinken, spoke with the Secretary General of the UN, Antonio Guterres, to “highlight the need for a rapid and thorough investigation into this matter”.

Attacks on UNRWA shelter

Faced with these accusations, UNRWA management announced on Friday that it had separated from several employees, accused of being involved in the Hamas attack on October 7. “To protect the agency’s ability to deliver humanitarian aid, I have decided to immediately terminate the contracts of these staff members and open an investigation,” the head of the agency said in a statement. agency, Philippe Lazzarini, for whom “any employee involved in acts of terrorism will have to answer, including through legal proceedings”.

Hamas, for its part, asked in a statement “the United Nations and international organizations not to give in to threats and blackmail” from Israel, accusing Israel of wanting to “cut off funds and deprive” the population of Gaza of all international aid. .

These accusations come in a tense context between UNRWA and Israel. The UN agency accused two Israeli tanks of firing on Wednesday at one of its training centers, located in Khan Younes, in the south of the Gaza Strip. Transformed into a shelter since the start of the war, it shelters tens of thousands of displaced people. Thirteen people were killed and more than fifty-six injured, including twenty-one in critical condition, in these strikes, according to the agency.

Mr. Lazzarini denounced a “flagrant violation of the fundamental rules of war.” The Israeli army, for its part, announced a “thorough review” of its operations in the area concerned, without ruling out the possibility of a Hamas strike. The Israeli army, however, is the only force in the Gaza Strip to deploy tanks.