The United Nations and nine Western countries have paused all funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, known as UNRWA, after Israel accused 12 of its staff members of being involved in Hamas’ October 7 attack on the country, Al Jazeera reported.

The countries that paused funding are the United States, Australia, Canada, Italy, Germany, Finland, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

The UNRWA has fired nine of these employees after the allegations became public, though details regarding their ties to Hamas are not yet known. United Nations Secretary General António Guterres said that one of the 12 employees have died and that the identities of two others were still “being clarified”. He added that the UN “is taking swift actions following the extremely serious allegations”.

The UNRWA has been the main agency providing aid to the residents of Gaza amid Israel’s military offensive in the besieged Palestinian enclave.

Philippe Lazzarini, the head of the Palestinian refugee agency, described the pause in funding as “collective punishment” because of allegations of criminal acts against some individuals.

“UNRWA is the primary humanitarian agency in Gaza, with over two million people depending on it for their sheer survival,” Lazzarini said in a statement. “Many are hungry as the clock is ticking towards a looming famine. The Agency runs shelters for over 1 million people and provides food and primary healthcare even at the height of the hostilities.”

Francesca Albanese, the United Nations special rapporteur on the occupied Palestinian territories, said that countries that cut funding to the UN agency could be in violation of the Genocide Convention.

“The day after the International Court of Justice concluded that Israel is plausibly committing Genocide in Gaza, some states decided to defund UNRWA,” Albanese said on social media.

More than 25,000 people have been killed in Gaza since October 7 amid Israel’s war on the besieged region. The war, triggered after the attack on southern Israel by Palestinian militant group Hamas, has entered its 12th week. Hamas’ attack on Israel had killed 1,200 people and the group had taken more than 200 hostages.

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