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Austria has become the twelfth country to suspend payments to the United Nations’ Palestinian aid agency (UNRWA), which provides supplies for people in Gaza, amid allegations that some of its workers were involved in the deadly surprise Hamas-led terror attack on Israel on Oct. 7.

The aid will remain suspended pending a full investigation into the alleged involvement of UNRWA workers, the Austrian foreign ministry said on Monday. Israel has also accused employees of the UN agency of helping keep at least one Israeli hostage captive and said UNRWA teachers celebrated the brutal attack in classrooms with students.

“We call on UNRWA and the United Nations to conduct a comprehensive, swift and complete investigation into the allegations,” the Austrian ministry said in a statement.

Austria joins the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Australia, Finland, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Canada and Japan in pausing funding to the aid agency.

JAPAN JOINS LIST OF COUNTRIES SUSPENDING FUNDS TO UNRWA AFTER ALLEGATIONS OF STAFFERS PARTICIPATING ON OCT 7

Before Austria, France and Japan were the latest to announce they would be suspending aid to the Palestinian relief agency.

“France has not planned a new payment at UNRWA in the first quarter of 2024 and will decide when the time comes what action to take in conjunction with the United Nations and the main donors,” its foreign ministry said Sunday.

Also on Sunday, Japan’s foreign ministry reiterated the good work done by some UNRWA workers but said the allegations warrant an investigation.

“As a United Nations agency, UNRWA plays a crucial role in providing essential services such as health and medical care, education, welfare, and food assistance to millions of Palestinian refugees in cooperation with the international community. Especially in the Gaza Strip, where the humanitarian situation is deteriorating further, UNRWA plays a vital role in delivering essential humanitarian assistance to each and every resident,” the Japanese ministry said.

It added: “Against this backdrop, Japan is extremely concerned about the alleged involvement of UNRWA staff members in the terror attack on Israel on October 7 last year. In response, Japan has decided to suspend additional funding to UNRWA for the time being while UNRWA conducts an investigation into the matter and considers measures to address the allegations.”

UN CALLS ON COUNTRIES TO RESUME UNRWA FUNDING DESPITE REPORT EMPLOYEES PARTICIPATED IN OCT 7 MASSACRE

Both countries followed the U.S., which suspended aid and demanded an investigation on Friday, Jan. 26.

“The United States is extremely troubled by the allegations that twelve UNRWA employees may have been involved in the October 7 Hamas terrorist attack on Israel.  The Department of State has temporarily paused additional funding for UNRWA while we review these allegations and the steps the United Nations is taking to address them,” the State Department said.

UNRWA supplies

“UNRWA plays a critical role in providing lifesaving assistance to Palestinians, including essential food, medicine, shelter, and other vital humanitarian support.  Their work has saved lives, and it is important that UNRWA address these allegations and take any appropriate corrective measures, including reviewing its existing policies and procedures,” the statement continued. 

It added: “There must be complete accountability for anyone who participated in the heinous attacks of October 7.”

MORE COUNTRIES CUT FUNDING TO UN AGENCY AFTER STAFFERS ACCUSED OF PARTICIPATING IN OCT. 7 HAMAS ATTACK

The Israeli foreign ministry has also accused several teachers at UNRWA schools in Gaza, which receive American taxpayer funding every year, of allegedly having celebrated the Oct. 7 attacks in classrooms with students present.

Despite these allegations, Norway has agreed to continue sending aid and financial assistance. 

Workers distributing aid

“While I share the concern over the very serious allegations against some @UNRWA staff, Norway has decided to continue its funding,” the Norwegian foreign minister said. “UNRWA is a lifeline for millions of people in deep distress in Gaza as well as in the wider region.”

Separately, Germany and Egypt have affirmed their commitment to providing aid to Palestinians, many of whom face dire situations.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi spoke on the phone and agreed on the importance of allowing humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip, a German government spokesperson said on Monday.

“The chancellor and the president agreed that in the conflict between Israel and Hamas there is an urgent need to significantly improve access for humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip and the provision of supplies to the Palestinians,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

Some 1,200 people were killed and more than 250 people were taken hostage when Hamas-led forces led a brutal attack on Israel communities on Oct. 7, 2023. 

Fox News’ Liz Friden contributed to this report.

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