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Netanyahu orders IDF chief to find alternatives to UNRWA for aid distribution

Palestinians crowd to receive food supplies at a UNRWA school, in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip on Jan. 28, 2024. (Photo: Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Hertzi Halevi and the Israeli army to come up with alternatives to relying on UNRWA in the near future, regarding the transport of humanitarian aid shipments to Gaza. The aid is currently being delivered directly to the organization.

This announcement was reported on Tuesday during the "This Morning" show on the KAN public broadcasting network.

Netanyahu requested that Halevi present these alternatives by the end of the coming week, according to senior officials in the Security Cabinet.

As of today, Israel transports all the humanitarian aid that enters Gaza to UNRWA, which is responsible for distributing it to Gazans, with at least a significant part of that aid being taken by Hamas.

Only recently has the close and direct connection between UNRWA and Hamas been proven again, culminating in the fact that some UNRWA personnel participated in the Oct. 7 massacre. This revelation comes after years of UNRWA serving as Israel's main organization within the Gaza Strip, and after granting it a tax exemption on the purchase of fuel.

On Monday night, UN Sec.-Gen. António Guterres announced the appointment of an external review committee to assess whether UNRWA is "doing everything within its power to ensure neutrality, and to respond to allegations of serious breaches."

The committee will be led by former French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna. The work of the review team is expected to be completed in late April, with an interim report provided at the end of March.

Meanwhile, the United States, Canada, Italy, the United Kingdom and Finland announced that they would stop funding UNRWA due to the involvement of its employees in the Oct. 7 massacre.

Canadian Foreign Minister Ahmed Hussen said in his statement that "Canada takes the reports seriously, and consults with UNRWA and other donors." 

Zeev Kam is a legislative affairs correspondent for KAN 11.

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