The United Nations agency for Palestine refugees, which has faced a storm in recent months in the Gaza Strip, on Tuesday called for an “investigation” by the Security Council into Israeli attacks that it said killed 180 of its workers from on October 7 and stressed that it hopes to restore its funding, much of which has been frozen.

Philippe Lazzarini, the head of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), yesterday gave answers to the press at the UN headquarters in New York for the report of experts led by the former foreign minister of France Catherine Colonna. The “independent” group pointed out yesterday, Monday, that there is a lack of political “neutrality” in this humanitarian service of the Organization, recognizing, however, that it is “irreplaceable” for the 5.9 million Palestinians in the region.

After more than six months of Israeli military operations with the stated aim of wiping out Hamas, Mr Lazzarini said he had asked “the members of the Security Council” to carry out an “independent investigation to bring responsibility for the flagrant disregard for the facilities of the UN, UN personnel and UN operations in the Gaza Strip’.

“To date, 180 UNRWA workers have been killed (…) and more than 160 facilities have been damaged or completely destroyed,” the Italian-Swiss emphasized.

His agency, which employs more than 30,000 people across the region, has been accused by Israel of having “over 400 terrorists” in its ranks in the Gaza Strip.

Israel’s government said 12 of them were directly involved in what it said was an unprecedented raid by Hamas’ military arm against southern Israel on October 7 that killed 1,170 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally. based on official Israeli data.

Funding freeze

However, according to the group’s report led by Catherine Colonna, the United Nations “has received no evidence from Israel” that Palestinian UNRWA workers may have been involved in the attack or that they were involved in “terrorist organizations”, specifically Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

However, this does not necessarily mean, the former head of French diplomacy Colonna clarified yesterday in New York, that “there is no evidence”.

In any case, the Israeli accusations prompted the suspension of funding from at least fifteen of UNRWA’s main funders, including the US and Britain, in January. Since then, several of these countries have decided to restore it, such as Nordic countries, Japan, Germany, France and Canada.

Yesterday, Tuesday, the European Union appealed to all donors to restore their support to UNRWA.

But the White House demanded “genuine progress” before reopening the purse strings that have been closed until at least March 2025 under a budget bill passed in March that suspends any US funding of UNRWA for a year.


In total, an amount of 450 million dollars has been frozen, at a time when the 2.3 million residents of the Gaza Strip are experiencing a humanitarian disaster and urgently need help, Mr. Lazzarini reminded.

He added that he hoped that “with the (Colonas) report and the measures we will put in place, the last group of donors will regain enough confidence” to restore funding.

The head of UNRWA reckons that the funding is sufficient “until the end of June” and stressed that his agency is operating “for now from day to day”, thanks to the collection of “$100 million”, private donations, an “excellent” indication in practice ” of solidarity”, as he judged.

Mr. Lazzarini, a target of the Israeli government for months, also responded to the accusation that UNRWA in Gaza is “a rotten and poisonous tree whose roots are Hamas.”

“The real objective behind the attacks against UNRWA is political in nature: it is to deprive the Palestinians of refugee status, starting with the Gaza Strip, Jerusalem and the West Bank,” he said. And “that’s exactly what we heard (last week) in the (Security) Council from the Israeli ambassador (to the UN) Gilad Erdan.” This is a goal of the state,” he added.

At that meeting, Mr. Lazzarini warned that in the event of the “dissolution” of the agency he leads, it would accelerate the manifestation of “famine” in the Palestinian enclave, where more than 34,000 people, mostly women and children, have lost their lives since they began Israeli military operations, according to the Hamas Health Ministry.