ua en ru

US criticized Netanyahu's statement about cooperation of UN Agency with Hamas

US criticized Netanyahu's statement about cooperation of UN Agency with Hamas Photo: The Senate criticized Netanyahu's desire to eliminate the UN Agency for Aid to Palestine Refugees (Getty Images)

Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen criticized Israel's accusations that the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) is a puppet of the Palestinian group Hamas. He called such accusations an attempt by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to liquidate the agency, informs The Hill.

Van Hollen called Netanyahu's and other leaders' statements that the UN agency is a puppet of Hamas blatant lies.

"If you look at the person who’s in charge of operations on the ground for UNRWA, it’s about a 20-year U.S. Army veteran. You can be sure he’s not in cahoots with Hamas," Van Hollen said on Sunday in an interview on the Face the Nation program on CBS News.

The activities of the UN agency came under scrutiny earlier this year after Israel claimed that 12 of its employees were involved in a Hamas attack on Israel on October 7, 2023.

However, no substantial evidence was provided to support these accusations, although UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini stated at the beginning of March that "serious action" had indeed been taken, including terminating contracts with suspected members of the group.

"Netanyahu has wanted to get rid of UNRWA since at least 2017. That’s been his goal, not just in Gaza, but also in the other places you talked about," Van Hollen said.

CBS News host Margaret Brennan asked the senator why he believes Netanyahu is seeking to end UNRWA, pointing out that the agency is one of the largest distributors of aid in the Gaza Strip.

"Well, that’s exactly right. And there have been allegations made by the Netanyahu government that up to 14 of those 13,000 people were involved in the horrific Oct. 7 attacks. We should investigate it, we should hold all those people accountable. But … let’s not hold 2 million innocent Palestinian civilians who are dying of starvation, let’s not hold them, essentially, accountable for the bad acts of 14 people," he said.

Van Hollen also asserts that Netanyahu wants to dismantle UNRWA because he sees it as a "them as a means to continue the hopes of the Palestinian people for a homeland of their own." "And he has been opposed to a two-state solution. And this has been his primary objective, stopping a two-state solution," the senator said.

After Netanyahu's accusations, the United States, along with nearly a dozen other countries, suspended funding for the Agency. Subsequently, its leadership stated that it adhered to a strict policy of "neutrality," while acknowledging the difficult circumstances in Gaza due to Hamas rule.

Republicans in Congress intensified calls to block further funding for the Agency, while Democrats recognized the seriousness of the accusations but also emphasized that they pertained to a very small fraction of the agency's more than 30,000 employees.

Senator Van Hollen warned of the far-reaching consequences of cutting funding to UNRWA in Gaza, which had been significantly devastated by Israeli bombardments following the attacks on October 7.

Israel-Hamas war

After the attack by Hamas terrorists on Israel on October 7, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) launched a ground military operation in the Gaza Strip, which continues to this day.

On February 8, Netanyahu announced that a complete victory for the IDF was imminent. He also announced the readiness of the IDF to launch a ground invasion into the city of Rafah near the border with Egypt in the southern Gaza Strip.

At the end of January, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees began investigating several employees suspected of involvement in the Hamas attack on Israel on October 7.

Soon after, the Israeli military discovered a concealed Hamas reconnaissance tunnel in Gaza City beneath a building housing the headquarters of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA). Terrorists allegedly tapped into the power grid of the headquarters and used UNRWA offices for planning and conducting combat operations.