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Israel accuses UNRWA of covering up Hamas theft of Gazan humanitarian aid

Palestinians receive bags of flour at the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) distribution center, amid ongoing battles between Israel and Hamas, November 23, 2023. (Photo: Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

Israel is accusing the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees of covering up the theft of humanitarian aid, earmarked for Gaza’s civilian population, by Hamas terror organization operatives.

UNRWA responded by claiming a "lack of foundation" for Israel's accusations against Hamas and the UN agency.

The commissioner-general of UNRWA, Philippe Lazzarini, contends that "official Israeli sources hinted or directly imposed responsibility on UNRWA for gaps in the transfer of aid to Gaza."

This is allegedly what led to the spread of “distorted” information in Israeli media and social media, according to the UNRWA chief.

In mid-October, the UNRWA initially hinted that Hamas operatives had stolen humanitarian aid from the UN agency’s Gazan storage but later denied its claim in an official retractive statement: “UNRWA would like to confirm that no looting has taken place in any of its warehouses in the Gaza Strip.”

“The images circulating on social media were of a movement of basic medical supplies from the UNRWA warehouse to health partners,” UNRWA added in its statement.

However, in November, Israel's KAN 11 news channel showed exclusive footage of Hamas terrorists beating up Gazan civilians and stealing humanitarian aid in Gaza.

The allegedly problematic relationship between Hamas and UNRWA is not limited to humanitarian aid.

In early December, an Israeli Channel 13 news journalist, Almog Boker, published testimony from a former Israeli hostage who revealed that a UNRWA teacher had abducted and held him in an attic for almost 50 days of his captivity in Gaza.

“'Uninvolved,' they say, right? Well, read this story carefully. One of the abductees, held for nearly 50 days in an attic, reveals he was held by a UNRWA teacher – a father of ten children. This teacher locked the victim away, barely provided food, and neglected medical needs,” Boker wrote.

The United Nations and its agencies have blamed Israel for the slow inflow of humanitarian aid to Gaza. However, Israel has agreed and assisted in sending humanitarian aid to Gazan civilians.

Earlier in December, Israeli President Isaac Herzog blasted the UN for failing to bring in more humanitarian aid to Gaza.

“Unfortunately, due to the utter failure of the UN in its work with other partners in the region, they have been unable to bring in more than 125 trucks [of aid] a day,” Herzog stated at the time.

“Today it is possible to provide three times the amount of humanitarian aid to Gaza if the UN – instead of complaining all day – would do its job,” the Israeli president added.

Other UN refugee agencies have successfully resettled millions of refugees since World War II. By contrast, UNRWA has not resettled a single refugee from the Arab-Israeli War in 1948. Critics argue that UNRWA has perpetuated the ongoing conflict by passing on the refugee status from one generation to the next.

UNRWA-run schools have also played an instrumental role in spreading antisemitic incitement against Israel and the Jewish people.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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