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Home NewsCNN UN agency fires staff members allegedly involved in October 7 attacks

UN agency fires staff members allegedly involved in October 7 attacks

by Chanel Rowe
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Originally Published: 26 JAN 24 10:24 ET

Updated: 26 JAN 24 11:34 ET

By Hira Humayun, CNN

(CNN) — The UN relief agency operating in Gaza said Friday that Israel had accused some of its staff of being involved in the October 7 attacks, and that their contracts would be “immediately” terminated.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNWRA) Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini said Israeli authorities provided the agency “with information” alleging several of its employees participated in Hamas’ murderous rampage into southern Israel, when the militant group killed at least 1,200 people and abducted more than 250 others.

An investigation is being launched into the alleged involvement of the employees and those involved will be held accountable “including through criminal prosecution,” added Lazzarini. The commissioner-general said he made the decision in order to protect the agency’s ability to deliver humanitarian aid.

In the wake of the allegations on Friday, the US State Department announced it had “temporarily paused additional funding” to UNRWA. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to “emphasize the necessity of a thorough and swift investigation of this matter,” State Department spokesperson Matt Miller said in a statement.

The US has contacted the Israeli government for more details on the allegations, added Miller. They have also briefed member of Congress.

CNN has reached out to UNRWA and the Israeli authorities about the information Israel provided UNRWA and the nature of the alleged involvement of the UNRWA employees.

Israel’s relations with the UN have deteriorated in recent months, after the organization’s senior officials repeatedly condemned the country’s military approach to the war in Gaza.

In December, Israeli diplomats lashed out when UN Secretary-General António Guterres invoked a rarely used but powerful tool in his determined push for a ceasefire. At the time, Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen said the UN chief’s tenure was “a danger to world peace” and that his call for a ceasefire in Gaza amounted to supporting Hamas and the October 7 attack.

As Israel’s offensive enters its fourth month, entire neighborhoods in Gaza have been wiped out, critical supplies are dwindling and more than 2.2 million people face starvation, dehydration and deadly disease. At least 1.7 million Palestinians have been internally displaced, many of them multiple times, according to the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Meanwhile, a growing chorus of world leaders have warned against the mounting Palestinian death toll. Israeli attacks on Gaza have killed at least 26,083 people, the vast majority of whom are women, children and the elderly, according to the Hamas-run Ministry of Health. CNN cannot independently verify the figures due to the difficulties of reporting from the war zone.

Israel has strongly opposed calls for a ceasefire, maintaining that it needs to press on with its aim of eliminating Hamas.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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Philippe Lazzarini

**This image is for use with this specific article only** The UN’s agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA) is “immediately” terminating the contracts of staff members allegedly involved in the October 7 attacks on Israel, Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini, pictured above, said on Friday.

John Minchillo/AP/FILE

26 Jan 24

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