Peace and Security

UN Digs Into Accusations of Staff Collusion Amid October Attacks

A UN Office investigating Israeli accusations that 12 staff members from UN Palestine relief agency UNRWA were involved in the 7 October Hamas-led attacks has closed one of the cases because Israel had not provided any supporting evidence, UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric said on Friday. 

“We are exploring corrective administrative action to be taken in that person’s case,” he said, speaking during the daily press briefing in New York. 

Meanwhile, eight staff remain under investigation by the UN’s internal oversight body, OIOS, which also suspended three cases “as the information provided by Israel is not sufficient for OIOS to proceed with an investigation.” 

UNRWA is now also considering what administrative action to take in those three cases.  

Immediate action taken 

The accusations surfaced in January when Israel informed UNRWA of the alleged involvement of the staff members in the brutal assault on its territory. Some 1,200 people were killed and another 250 were taken to Gaza as hostages. 

Of the 12 people implicated, UNRWA immediately identified and terminated the contracts of 10, while two were confirmed dead.  

The UN Secretary-General immediately ordered OIOS to investigate, while an independent panel was appointed to conduct a separate assessment into whether UNRWA is doing everything to ensure neutrality and to respond to allegations of serious breaches when they arise. 

The panel, headed by former French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna, published its report on Monday which found that “the set of rules and the mechanisms and procedures in place [at UNRWA] are the most elaborate within the UN system”. 

Seven more cases 

Mr. Dujarric said the UN subsequently received information from Israel about seven more cases – five in March and two in April. One case has also been suspended pending receipt of additional supporting evidence and OIOS are investigating the remainder. 

“OIOS has also informed us that its investigators had travelled to Israel for discussions with the Israeli authorities and will undertake another visit in May. These discussions are continuing and have so far been productive and have enabled progress on the investigations,” he said. 

No alternative to UNRWA 

The initial Israeli allegations prompted 16 countries to stop contributing to UNRWA, which mainly relies on donations to fund its operations across five locations in the Middle East, including Gaza.  

The agency is the largest humanitarian organization in besieged Gaza, where more than 34,000 Palestinians have been killed since 7 October, according to the authorities.

This week, Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini said several donor countries “have come back”, and UNRWA has sufficient funding to keep operations running until the end of June. 

Separately, UNRWA launched a $1.2 billion appeal to meet urgent needs in Gaza and in the West Bank, where violence is increasing. 

“The past months proved that there is no replacement or alternative to UNRWA,” Mr. Lazzarini said on Wednesday, announcing the appeal. 



  1. It’s concerning that Israel failed to provide supporting evidence for the allegations against the UN staff. The UN’s approach to exploring administrative action seems fair and necessary. Hopefully, justice will prevail amidst this complex investigation.

  2. It’s concerning that only based on allegations, certain staff members had their contracts terminated. More concrete evidence should be required before such drastic actions are taken.

  3. Can the UN provide more details on the evidence they have regarding the remaining eight staff members under investigation by OIOS?

    1. UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric mentioned that the UN is currently unable to provide further details on the evidence related to the ongoing investigation of the eight staff members under scrutiny by OIOS, as Israel’s information has not been sufficient for OIOS to proceed with a full investigation. The organization is considering appropriate administrative measures for these cases.

  4. It is concerning that the case was closed due to lack of evidence provided by Israel. The UN needs to ensure a thorough investigation is conducted to address these serious accusations properly.

  5. As an avid supporter of the UN, I believe it is crucial for all allegations to be thoroughly investigated. It’s disheartening to see lack of evidence hindering the process. Hopefully, justice will prevail for all parties involved.

  6. It’s concerning that the accusations were made without proper evidence provided by Israel. The UN should ensure a fair and thorough investigation before taking any administrative action against the staff members involved. It’s crucial to uphold transparency and justice in such sensitive matters.

  7. It’s concerning that the case was closed due to lack of evidence from Israel. Hopefully, the truth will come to light for the remaining staff members under investigation. Accountability is crucial in such serious matters.

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