The Biden Administration Halts Aid to Palestine UN Agency as Famine Takes Hold in Gaza

by | Jan 28, 2024

The Biden Administration Halts Aid to Palestine UN Agency as Famine Takes Hold in Gaza

by | Jan 28, 2024

unrwa fields of operations map 2017.pdf

The State Department announced that the US would suspend aid transfers to the Palestinian UN aid agency after Israel alleged a small number of the organization’s staff were involved in the October 7 Hamas attack. The White House elected to cut aid to Gaza as famine sets in and the health care system collapses. 

On Friday, Israel informed the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) that 12 of its staff members had participated in the October 7 Hamas attack on southern Israel. UNRWA, the UN agency that facilitates aid transfers to Palestinians, has roughly 30,000 employees. 

UNRWA chief Philippe Lazzarini confirmed that Israel had informed the agency that some of its staff took part in the attack on Israel. UNRWA fired nine of the 12 alleged employees who took part in the attack. UN officials said one of the accused is dead and are trying to identify the remaining two. 

“To protect the agency’s ability to deliver humanitarian assistance, I have taken the decision to immediately terminate the contracts of these staff members and launch an investigation in order to establish the truth without delay,” Lazzarini said. 

Disregarding the prompt action by UNRWA, the US, Germany, the UK, and several other Western countries responded to the Israeli accusation by suspending aid transfers to the agency. State Department Spokesman Matthew Miller explained, “The Department of State has temporarily paused additional funding for UNRWA while we review these allegations and the steps the United Nations is taking to address them.”

UN officials issued pleas following the aid suspensions. “While I understand their concerns – I was myself horrified by these accusations – I strongly appeal to the governments that have suspended their contributions to, at least, guarantee the continuity of UNRWA’s operations,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Sunday.

Francesca Albanese, the UN Special Rapporteur for the Occupied Palestinian Territories, noted that the suspension of aid defies a ruling by the International Court of Justice (ICJ). Earlier on Friday, the ICJ ruled against Israel in a genocide case brought by South Africa. A portion of the ICJ ruling called for allowing aid to flow into Gaza. 

The 2.3 million Palestinians who live in the besieged Gaza Strip are suffering from a humanitarian catastrophe. Hundreds of thousands of people are in a state of starvation. Additionally, diseases are spreading rampantly as Israeli military operations have systematically destroyed Gaza’s healthcare system. 

About Kyle Anzalone

Kyle Anzalone is news editor of the Libertarian Institute, opinion editor of and co-host of Conflicts of Interest with Will Porter and Connor Freeman.

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