White House defends UNRWA amid terrorist allegations: ‘Don’t impugn the whole agency’

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White House national security spokesman John Kirby called for a thorough investigation into Israel’s terrorism allegations against UNRWA employees on Monday, but also said the allegations shouldn’t taint the whole organization.

Kirby made the statement during a Monday press conference at the White House. Reporters pressed Kirby about Israel’s claims that at least 13 UNRWA employees in Gaza participated in the Oct. 7 massacre in Israel.

‘Do you have any reason to believe that that might have been more widespread – that there could be that later indicates that it was beyond those 13 people?’ a reporter asked.

‘I haven’t seen any information that affirmatively makes that case, that it’s more than that 13,’ Kirby responded. ‘That’s why an investigation is so dang important here so that you can look at the scope of the problem set.’

‘But you’ve got 13,000 UNRWA employees. You have 13,000 of them in Gaza alone, and as I said last week, let’s not impugn the good work of a whole agency because of the potential bad actions here by a small number,’ he continued.

‘I am not dismissing the seriousness of the allegations against those employees,’ Kirby clarified. ‘And whether there’s gonna be more that will be found, hopefully the investigation will give us more insight.’

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on countries to continue funding UNRWA despite the news. The U.S. and a growing list of other countries have temporarily halted funding for the agency. Israel released evidence showing that at least a dozen of the organization’s employees in Gaza had participated in the massacre of 1,200 Israeli citizens by Hamas terrorists on Oct. 7, 2023.

‘While I understand their concerns – I was myself horrified by these accusations – I strongly appeal to the governments that have suspended their contributions to, at least, guarantee the continuity of UNRWA’s operations,’ Guterres said in a statement on Sunday.

The Biden administration has not announced a timeline for resuming funding to UNRWA.

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