‘Abuse, Ill-Treatment’ – UNRWA Says Israel Forced Its Employees into False Confessions

Thousands of displaced Palestinians are living in UNRWA shelters. (Photo: via KinderUSA)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff  

The UN Agency for Palestinian Refugees, UNRWA, said in a report that some employees – released into Gaza after being held by Israel – reported having been forced by Israeli authorities into false confessions regarding their role in the October 7 military operation.

The report, which was reviewed by the Reuters news agency, is dated February 2024.

According to Reuters, the document “detailed allegations of mistreatment in Israeli detention made by unidentified Palestinians, including several working for UNRWA.”

UNRWA communications director Juliette Touma told Reuters that “the agency planned to hand the information in the 11-page, unpublished report to agencies inside and outside the UN, specialized in documenting potential human rights abuses.”

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“When the war comes to an end there needs to be a series of inquiries to look into all violations of human rights,” she reportedly added.

According to the document, several UNRWA Palestinian employees, who have been detained by the Israeli army in Gaza, recounted the ill-treatment and torture they experienced, including “severe physical beatings, waterboarding, and threats of harm to family members.”

“Agency staff members have been subject to threats and coercion by the Israeli authorities while in detention, and pressured to make false statements against the Agency, including that the Agency has affiliations with Hamas and that UNRWA staff members took part in the 7 October 2023 atrocities,” the report said, according to Reuters. 

Additionally, “Palestinian detainees more broadly described allegations of abuse, including beatings, humiliation, threats, dog attacks, sexual violence, and deaths of detainees denied medical treatment,” Reuters quoted the report as saying. 

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‘Reckless’ Suspension of Aid

Several Western countries, including the US, Canada, and France have suspended funding worth $440 million to the UN relief agency after Israel alleged some of its employees were involved in the October 7 operation carried out by the Palestinian Resistance.  

UNRWA terminated the contracts of the staff members concerned, asking for an independent investigation.

UNRWA has repeatedly warned that it would “most likely” be forced to shut down its operations in the besieged Gaza Strip as well as across the region by the end of February if funding remains suspended.  

UNRWA is the largest humanitarian organization in Gaza. Of its 13,000 staff, more than 3,000 continue working, they are the backbone of the humanitarian aid operations, the agency said in a statement last month.

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Several global aid organizations slammed the decision as “reckless” by certain countries to suspend UNRWA funding.

In a joint statement, the agencies including Oxfam and Save the Children, said “we are deeply concerned and outraged that some of the largest donors have united to suspend” funding for UNRWA “amid a rapidly worsening humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza.”

The organizations warned, “The population faces starvation, looming famine and an outbreak of disease under Israel’s continued indiscriminate bombardment and deliberate deprivation of aid in Gaza.”

“We are shocked by the reckless decision to cut a lifeline for an entire population by some of the very countries that had called for aid in Gaza to be stepped up and for humanitarians to be protected while doing their job,” the organizations said. 

Gaza Genocide

Currently on trial before the International Court of Justice for genocide against Palestinians, Israel has been waging a devastating war on Gaza since October 7. 

According to Gaza’s Ministry of Health, 30,960 Palestinians have been killed, and 72,524 wounded in Israel’s ongoing genocide in Gaza starting on October 7.

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Moreover, at least 7,000 people are unaccounted for, presumed dead under the rubble of their homes throughout the Strip. 

Palestinian and international organizations say that the majority of those killed and wounded are women and children.

The Israeli aggression has also resulted in the forceful displacement of nearly two million people from all over the Gaza Strip, with the vast majority of the displaced forced into the densely crowded southern city of Rafah near the border with Egypt – in what has become Palestine’s largest mass exodus since the 1948 Nakba.

Israel says that 1,200 soldiers and civilians were killed during the Al-Aqsa Flood Operation on October 7. Israeli media published reports suggesting that many Israelis were killed on that day by ‘friendly fire.’

(The Palestine Chronicle)

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1 Comment

  1. Two points: confessions made under torture are inherently problematic, because the objective of torture is to shut down a lot of the internal inhibitions and people under torture notoriously say anything to stop the pain; and while saying what the torturer wants to hear, is one way to stop the pain, it’s meaningless information because it’s made to fit someone’s preconceptions rahter than reality. That Israel continues to rely on what Jews universally condemn from the likes of the Spanish Inquisition post-1492, should be enough for most people to condemn it; that they don’t is their problem.

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