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SOURCE: ani

Following Israel’s accusation of UNRWA staff being involved in the October 7 Hamas attack, Ministry of External Affairs official spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal on Thursday, said that India has been extending assistance to Palestine both bilaterally and through the United Nations, adding that, at the same time, it has zero tolerance towards terrorism.

While addressing the weekly presser, the MEA spokesperson further expressed concern at the allegations imposed by Israel on United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) staff members for being involved in the Hamas terror attacks.

The allegations assert that 13 UNRWA employees were associated with the October 7 Hamas attack on Israel, with varying levels of involvement, according to information shared by an Israeli official. The Israeli claims suggest that these employees participated in activities ranging from kidnapping hostages to setting up an operation room.

MEA spokesperson emphasised that India is an important development partner for Palestine.

“On UNRWA, India is an important development partner of Palestine, and we have been extending assistance to them both bilaterally and through the United Nations. but at the same time, we have a policy of zero tolerance towards terrorism, and in this regard, we are deeply concerned at the allegations that the UNRWA staff were involved in the October 7 terror attacks,” he said.

When asked about the allegation against the UNRWA, he said that India welcomes investigations launched by the United Nations in this matter.

“We also welcome investigations launched by the United Nations in this regard,” he added.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres announced the termination of nine out of the 12 United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) staff members implicated in the October 7 Hamas attack in Israel, CNN reported.

One staff member was reported dead, and the identities of two others are still under clarification. Guterres emphasised the severity of the allegations and assured swift action, with an ongoing investigation and an independent review in progress.

Guterres underscored the accountability of any UN employee involved in acts of terror, including potential criminal prosecution. Despite the serious allegations, he urged countries to continue financial assistance to UNRWA, emphasising the vital support it provides to 2 million Gazans for their daily survival.

However, the US decided to temporarily withhold approximately USD 3,00,000 in funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) as the United Nations (UN) investigates allegations of agency staff involvement

State Department spokesperson Matt Miller confirmed the pause in funding, originally scheduled for delivery in the coming weeks, while the investigations are ongoing.

A meeting between the US and 34 other donor nations with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is set to take place on Tuesday. The meeting aims to provide a briefing on actions taken since the revelation of the allegations against UNRWA staff. Guterres is expected to underline the organization’s vital humanitarian work during the meeting.

Meanwhile, when asked about the International Court of Justice’s (ICJ) verdict on South Africa’s case alleging that Israel is violating the 1948 Genocide Convention in Gaza, the MEA spokesperson, said that, “We have taken note of the provisional measures that the ICJ has given a verdict on. so that is where we are as far as the ICJ provisional measures verdict is concerned.”

The ICJ in the Hague ordered Israel to ‘take all measures’ to prevent genocide in Gaza. However, the court did not order that a ceasefire be implemented.

The ruling by the court was agreed upon by a 15 to 2 vote.

South Africa previously argued that Israel’s leaders were “intent on destroying the Palestinians in Gaza” and called for a halt to the military campaign. However, Israel dismissed the accusation as “blood libel” and accused South Africa of functioning as the “legal arm of Hamas.”