Sweden has become the latest nation to join the list of those suspending funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) over allegations that more than a dozen UNRWA employees were Hamas terrorists who participated in the Oct. 7 massacre and kidnapping of people in southern Israel.
Around 10 percent of UNRWA’s Gaza employees have been found to have links to Hamas or the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist organizations. Fifty percent have been found to have close relatives (first degree) who are members of the terrorist organizations.
Sweden’s Minister for International Development Cooperation and Foreign Trade, Johan Forssell, said in a statement that the money “will go instead to other humanitarian organizations,” according to the TT news agency.
On Monday, the European Union (EU) also announced suspension of its funding to UNRWA. The EU is one of the largest donors to the UN agency, along with the US and Germany. New Zealand also announced it would suspend its funding to the agency.
The United States was the first to suspend its funding to UNRWA, swiftly followed by the UK, Australia, Canada, Germany, Italy, Japan, France, Switzerland, Austria, Netherlands, Estonia and Romania. Two additional Scandinavian nations, Finland and Iceland, suspended funding to the agency as well.
Declassified Israeli intelligence shared with reporters Tuesday by government spokesperson Eylon Levy included the information that 13 UNRWA employees participated in the atrocities — including 10 Hamas operatives, two Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorists and one unaffiliate. Of those, six UNRWA terrorist employees infiltrated Israel in the Oct. 7 attack, including five Hamas operatives and one unaffiliated.
Four UNRWA employees were involved in abducting Israelis, including two of those who infiltrated Israeli territory. Another three UNRWA employees, all Hamas, were summoned via text message to arrive at an assembly point on the night of October 6th and directed to equip themselves with weapons.
At least one UNRWA employee supplied the Hamas invasion with logistical support, and another was directed to establish an operations room on October 8th, Levy said.
The evidence was gathered from Israeli interrogations of captured terrorists as well as text messages found on terrorists’ phones and footage from the terrorists’ own Go-Pro bodycams and Israeli community security footage.
More than 1,200 people were slaughtered by the invaders on October 7th in some 22 Israeli villages, several military bases and at a music festival that was taking place near Kibbutz Re’im along the Gaza border.
Of those who were accused, “nine were immediately identified and terminated,” one was “confirmed dead” and the “identity of two others is being clarified,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Sunday in a statement.
“UNRWA has responded by threatening criminal prosecution against the suspects; that response raises more questions than answers,” Levy pointed out.
“In what jurisdiction, for example, does UNRWA intend to prosecute these Hamas and Islamic Jihad members – Gaza? Does it plan to hand them over to the local authorities — Hamas — or will it extradite them to Israel? We view this as nothing more than a transparent stunt to try to continue avoiding responsibility.
“Not only does the evidence show that UNWRA staff were involved in the massacre: they were also directly implicated in holding hostages once they were in Gaza. At least two Israeli survivors of Hamas captivity have testified that they were held in the homes of UN teachers. One of them, as Channel 13 reported (ed: Dec. 1), was moved between hideouts through UNRWA facilities.”
UNRWA was established in 1949 by the United Nations to provide aid to Arab refugees who fled their homes in Israel following the 1948 War of Independence and provides services in the Palestinian Authority-controlled areas of Judea and Samaria as well as in eastern Jerusalem, Gaza, Jordan and Lebanon.
The UN agency is the only humanitarian aid organization in the world that confers permanent, inherited refugee status to the generations born to the original refugees, more than half a century ago. UNRWA claims about 5.9 million people qualify for its services — this, from the approximately 700,000 Arabs who fled Israel during the 1948 war.