Israel says over 450 UN aid agency workers in Gaza are 'military operatives'
Israel says over 450 UN aid agency workers in Gaza are 'military operatives'
Israel says over 450 UN aid agency workers in Gaza are 'military operatives'
by DZRH News06 March 2024
FILE PHOTO: The Palestinian key of return is pictured near a UNRWA center in the Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, February 5, 2024. REUTERS/Mussa Qawasma/File Photo

JERUSALEM (Reuters) -Israel's military said on Monday that the U.N. aid agency UNRWA in Gaza employed over 450 "military operatives" from Hamas and other armed groups, and that Israel has shared this intelligence with the United Nations.

UNRWA is already at the centre of a diplomatic storm over allegations by Israel that many of its employees double as members of Hamas, and that some staff even took part in Hamas' Oct. 7 attack that sparked the war in Gaza. The United States and other countries have since paused funding for UNRWA.

"Over 450 UNRWA employees are military operatives in terror groups in Gaza. Over 450. This is no mere coincidence. This is systematic. There is no claiming 'We did not know'," military spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari told reporters in a briefing.

"We sent the information that I am sharing now, as well as further intelligence, to our international partners, including the U.N.," he said.


UNRWA, in response, said it welcomed all information that could be included in an independent U.N. investigation now under way.

“UNRWA encourages any entity that has any information on the very serious allegations against UNRWA staff to share it with the ongoing U.N. investigation," said Juliette Touma, UNRWA head of communications.

Palestinian leaders have accused Israel of a political attack on UNRWA, and called for its funding to be restored.

UNRWA employs 13,000 people in Gaza, and provides day-to-day help to more than half of Gaza's 2.3 million Palestinians. The funding freeze has dramatically worsened the strain on an agency already severely stretched during nearly five months of war.


Israel has pledged to continue its devastating offensive until it eliminates Hamas, the Islamist group that rules Gaza and is sworn to Israel's destruction, and secures the release of over 100 Israeli hostages still in Gaza.

The Hamas attack on Oct. 7 killed 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and included the seizure of 253 hostages, according to Israeli tallies. Israel's military campaign has since killed more than 30,000 Palestinians, Gaza health authorities say.

(Reporting by Ari Rabinovitch, Michelle Nichols and Nidal al-Mughrabi;Editing by Chris Reese and Kevin Liffey)

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