(Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90)

Foreign Ministry Spokesman Lior Haiat said releasing funding ‘legitimizes UNRWA cooperation with Hamas.’

By Joshua Marks, JNS

Israel on Tuesday slammed the European Union’s decision last week to partially restore funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency before an investigation concludes into the U.N. agency’s links to Hamas and the Oct. 7 terrorist attack.

Foreign Ministry Spokesman Lior Haiat wrote on X that the European Commission’s move on Friday to pay 50 million euros ($54.3 million) to UNRWA before the probe’s completion “legitimizes the involvement of UNRWA employees in terrorist activities and cooperation with Hamas.”

The United Nations announced in February that an independent review group would assess whether UNRWA “is doing everything within its power to ensure neutrality and to respond to allegations of serious breaches when they are made.”

This is in addition to an investigation being conducted by U.N.’s Office for Internal Oversight Services.

The two investigations were initiated after Jerusalem revealed that 12 UNRWA employees “actively participated” in the Hamas-led slaughter of 1,200 people in southern Israel on Oct. 7.

Many more were wounded in the attack, and 253 people kidnapped to Gaza, where 134 hostages remain.

This led to many countries, along with the European Union, suspending funding to the embattled agency. Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant later publicized the identities of the 12 employees and said that 30 more had assisted in the terrorist attack.

Gallant also said that at least 12% of the 13,000 UNRWA employees in Gaza were affiliated with the Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror groups.

The IDF on Monday released two recordings of phone conversations showing that teachers affiliated with UNRWA took part in the massacre.

In a statement released last week, the European Commission said that it had received assurances from UNRWA that reviews and reforms would take place, allowing for the first portion of the 82 million euros allocated for 2024 to be distributed.

The second and third tranches, of 16 million euros each, are to be “released in line with the implementation of this agreement.”

European Union flags in front of the European Commission in Brussels. Credit: Symbiot/Shutterstock.

The Commission also allocated 68 million euros for emergency assistance to the Palestinians.

“We stand by the Palestinian people in Gaza and elsewhere in the region. Innocent Palestinians should not have to pay the price for the crimes of terrorist group Hamas. They face terrible conditions putting their lives at risk because of lack of access to sufficient food and other basic needs. That is why we are reinforcing our support to them this year by a further EUR 68 million,” said E.U. President Urusula von der Leyen.

For his part, Haiat said that Jerusalem would provide more information on UNRWA’s involvement in terrorist activity in the coming weeks to U.N. member states and the commissions of inquiry.

“The information regarding involvement of UNRWA employees in the Oct. 7 massacre, the significant presence of Hamas officials in the organization, including in management positions and the extensive use made of the agency’s assets for terrorist purposes accumulates and expands on a daily basis and leaves no room for doubt regarding the close connection between UNRWA, its employees and the Hamas terrorist organization,” Haiat wrote.

He reiterated Israel’s call for the European Union and all other donor countries to cease contributions to UNRWA.

The agency’s chief Philippe Lazzarini warned on Monday that “without additional funding, we will be in uncharted territory with serious implications for global peace and security.”

Speaking before the U.N. General Assembly in New York, Lazzarini said that the agency was “functioning hand-to-mouth” after 16 countries suspended $450 million in funding in the wake of the allegations about the agency’s terror ties.

He also accused Israel of leading “a deliberate and concerted campaign” aimed at ending the agency.