UNRWA: Israeli authorities use coerced confessions to smear UNRWA

Philippe Lazzarini
UN General Assembly, UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini. (File photo: Jordan News)
GAZA – On Tuesday, UNRWA accused Israel oftorturing several of its employees who were arrested in the Gaza Strip, Al-Mamlaka TV reported.اضافة اعلان

In a statement, the agency revealed that its staff members have endured horrifying events during their detention and interrogation by Israeli authorities. These reports include torture, severe mistreatment, assault, and sexual exploitation.

According to UNRWA, some of its employees were forced to provide confessions under torture and mistreatment while being questioned about the events of October 7.

“These coerced confessions, resulting from torture, are being used by Israeli authorities to spread misleading information about the agency as part of their attempts to dismantle UNRWA. This situation puts our staff in Gaza at risk, with serious implications for our operations in the region,” UNRWA emphasized.

The agency has lodged a written protest with Israel regarding the detention of its employees, but it has not received any response.

Additionally, CNN obtained an unpublished report prepared by UNRWA, which highlights physical and psychologicalviolations committed by the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) against Palestinians detained in Gaza during the war. The report is primarily based on the testimonies of former Gazan detainees who were held in Israeli prisons and military sites and were subsequently released and returned to Gaza.

Israel’s deflection
In response, a spokesperson for the IOFstated that UNRWA in Gaza had employed over 450 Hamas members and other armedgroups. Israel claims it has shared this intelligence information with international partners, including the UN.

UNRWA, on the other hand, welcomes any information that can be included in the ongoing independent investigation conducted by the UN. Juliette Touma, the agency’s Director of Communications, encourages any entity with information regarding the serious allegations against its staff to share it with the ongoing UN investigation.

UNRWA employs 13,000 people in Gaza and assists over half of the territory’s population daily, which amounts to approximately 2.3 million people. The recent suspension of funding by the US and other countries has intensified pressure on the agency, which was already facing significant challenges during the ongoing war spanning approximately five months.

Sacrificing an entire generation
In a speech to the UN General Assembly, UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini stated that there is no safe place for Gaza residents. Despite the atrocities they have already endured, it appears that the worst is yet to come.

In the same vein, Lazzarini warned the General Assembly that dismantling UNRWA, as demanded by Israel, would result in “sacrificing an entire generation of children” and “planting the seeds” for future wars and conflicts. He emphasized that dismantling the agency would be reckless, as it could jeopardize global peace and security.

Lazzarini further stated that believing the agency’s dissolution could occur without threatening global peace and security would be naive. His warning comes amidst the unprecedented humanitarian needs in Gaza, and he previously alerted the General Assembly about UNRWA reaching a breaking point due to Israel’s repeated calls for its dismantling and the freezing of donor funding.

Lazzarini also warned that an imminent attack on Rafah, where approximately 1.4 million displaced people are concentrated, poses a significant threat. He emphasized that the agency is ill-equipped to absorb financial shocks, especially given the escalating war in Gaza.

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