The Canadian government had not seen any evidence to support Israel’s claims that staff employed by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) colluded with Hamas before cutting off funding to the agency, CBC I found out on the news.
A government official told CBC that Israel has yet to produce evidence from Canada to support its claim that 12 UNRWA employees were somehow involved in the Oct. 7 attack on Israel by Hamas and its affiliate Islamic Jihad. They say they haven’t shared it.
On October 7, a Hamas-led attack in Israel killed approximately 1,200 people, including several Canadians. Israeli officials say 253 other people were taken hostage, and about 130 have yet to return home. The Palestinian Authority says more than 27,000 people have been killed in the Israeli military’s response to the Hamas-led attack.
Britain’s Channel for News obtained a copy of a document earlier this week that the Israeli government shared with the British government, which also cut funding to UNRWA.
Channel Four reported that the document was only six pages long. The news agency reiterated the Israeli government’s longstanding complaints against UNRWA, alleging that UNRWA staff were involved in the October 7 attack, but said there was “no evidence to support Israel’s explosive claims against the agency.” I won’t show it.”
Britain’s Sky News also reviewed the document and came to a similar conclusion.
“There are several claims in Israeli intelligence documents for which Sky News has not seen evidence, and many of the claims, even if true, do not directly implicate UNRWA,” the news channel reported.
CBC News has not yet been able to review Israeli intelligence documents.
Channel Four quoted from the relevant section of the document, which is written in Hebrew.
“Intelligence information, documents and identity documents seized during the fighting have made it possible to indict approximately 190 terrorist agents of Hamas and PIJ (Palestinian Islamic Jihad) who are UNRWA employees. UNRWA personnel were dispersed during the fighting, which occurred on October 7,” the newspaper reported.
The report includes photos of the 12 UNRWA personnel it claims were involved, but no information or documentation was provided to support the claims, Channel Four reported.
French public broadcaster France 24 also had access to the Israeli report and compared it to the infamous “dubious dossier” about intelligence claims about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction that led the British government to join the US invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Israel refuses to provide evidence
Israel has refused to provide information supporting its claims to UNRWA or to the UN Office of Internal Oversight (OIOS), the UN agency appointed to investigate.
“I don’t think there is a need to provide intelligence information. Then the source of the operation will be revealed,” Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Lior Hyat said. told France 24.
the statement seemed contradictory Foreign Minister Israel Katz’s tweet On Monday, Israel pledged to “submit all evidence highlighting UNRWA’s links with terrorism and its negative impact on regional stability.”
UNRWA It immediately moved to lay off 12 staff members. on January 26, shortly after Israel made its claim.
UNRWA Executive Director Philippe Lazzarini said: “In order to protect the agency’s ability to provide humanitarian assistance, I have taken the decision to immediately terminate the contracts of these personnel and to launch an investigation to uncover the truth without delay.” ” he said.
“UNRWA personnel involved in acts of terrorism will be held accountable, including criminal prosecution.”
UNRWA was blindsided by the sudden cutoff
UNRWA spokeswoman Juliet Touma said UNRWA took the immediate action to dismiss the staff because of the seriousness and timing of the allegations, but not because there was any credible evidence against them. Ta.
“The UNRWA Director did this in the best interest of UNRWA, as it posed significant risks to both UNRWA’s reputation and the largest humanitarian response to the war in Gaza,” she told Channel Four News. told.
He said the layoffs were aimed at reassuring donor countries and preventing more extreme actions.
The United States responded to the allegations by immediately halting funding, but Secretary of State Antony Blinken acknowledged that it was relying solely on Israel’s word.
“We didn’t have the ability to investigate.” [the allegations] “We are ourselves,” Blinken said on January 30. “But they’re very reliable.”
Canada announced the suspension of all funding within hours of the US announcement.
“I don’t think any of us expected so many friendly donors who have been our partners for decades to stop funding as quickly as they did.” said Touma.
“And no one expected this to be done in the midst of war and against the largest humanitarian organization rapidly responding to what has become one of the world’s most complex and difficult humanitarian crises. I think so.”
Unless funding is restored in the coming weeks, government agencies will struggle further to address the hunger situation currently prevailing in the Gaza Strip, she said.
“We will have to make very tough decisions that humanitarian workers should not have to make,” she said.
Canadian officials told CBC News that Canada’s own decision to withhold funding was a reaction to UNRWA’s decision to lay off staff, giving the impression that the agency considers Israel’s claims to be credible. He said he gave it.
Division within Israel
Israel made the decision to make the allegations public. caused friction According to Israeli media reports, an investigation has been launched between the Netanyahu government and the Israeli military to determine the source of the information leak.
Israeli media reported that Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) commanders wanted UNRWA to continue operations, fearing they would be left solely responsible for famine-stricken areas.
Israel’s civilian government has been pushing for the abolition of the institution for some time.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: “The time has come for the international community and the United Nations itself to understand that UNRWA’s mission must end.” told a visiting UN delegation “UNRWA is self-perpetuating. It is also self-perpetuating in its desire to keep the Palestinian refugee problem alive.”
“UNRWA personnel took part in the October 7 massacre,” Foreign Minister Israel Katz wrote on X (formerly Twitter). “Mr. Lazzarini should come to a conclusion and resign. Supporters of terrorism are not welcome here.”
Mr. Touma pointed out that the Israeli government itself approves all personnel employed by UNRWA.
“Every year we send a list of all staff working in the area to the host government,” she said. “And we have not received any response from the Israeli government regarding the contents of that list.”
Touma said he believed the names of the dozen or so employees accused by Israel were all on a list provided to the Israeli government in 2023.