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3:12 PM ET, February 28, 2024

Agency chief says Israel has not provided evidence to support allegations against UNRWA staff

From CNN's Amy Kaufman, Amy Cassidy and CNN staff

Israel has yet to provide evidence Its charges Members of the main United Nations aid agency in Gaza were involved in an October 7 attack by Hamas, according to the head of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).

“To my knowledge, as of today, no new information has been sent to UNRWA and the United Nations,” the agency's commissioner-general, Philippe Lazzarini, told CNN's Christiane Amanbour in his first face-to-face television interview. Since the allegations surfaced in January.
“We are now calling on the Israeli authorities to cooperate with the investigation team so that we can reach a swift conclusion,” he continued.

“We don't get anything more than what we see in the media,” he said.

Lazzarini called footage showing a UNRWA worker participating in the abduction of Yonatan Samerano, who was killed in Kibbutz Biri on October 7 – “shocking images.”

Background of the scenes: A video screened last week during a press conference with the Hostage and Disappeared Families Forum showed a white SUV approaching the kibbutz entrance. Two men get out of the vehicle and are seen carrying a body into the vehicle from the road. One of the men has been identified in the footage as a UNWRA worker. CNN could not independently verify the man's identity or Israel's allegations about his ties to Hamas.

“He could not personally identify the person in the video,” Lazzarini said Wednesday. He called for “more forensic evidence to be provided” while admitting the name of the person accused in the video “matched our staff list” and that his UNRWA contract was terminated.

Remember: UNRWA fired 10 of the 12 staff accused by Israel of involvement in the October 7 attacks and launched an investigation into the allegations, hoping to see international funding flow to the agency at a critical time. In at least 16 countries Suspended or suspended funds Lazzarini has warned that UNRWA will have to act beyond March since the allegations emerged affected Unless more money is donated.

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