Italy to resume funding UNRWA, pledges $38 million aid package for Palestinians

Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani says Rome will implement ‘rigorous checks’ to ensure ‘not one cent ends up supporting terrorism’

Activists protest against the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) outside its offices in Jerusalem, March 27, 2024. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Activists protest against the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) outside its offices in Jerusalem, March 27, 2024. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

ROME — Italy will resume funding for the United Nations’ Palestinian relief organization UNRWA as part of a 35 million euro ($38 million) aid package, Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani said on Saturday.

Tajani made the commitment during a meeting in Rome with Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Mustafa.

The Italian minister said five million euros ($5.4 million) would go to UNRWA projects, with the remainder destined for its “Food for Gaza” initiative.

Italy was one of a number of countries to block aid for UNRWA following accusations by Israel that at least a dozen UNRWA staffers were active Hamas members involved in the October 7 massacre, and many others are members of terror groups in Gaza.

A small number of the agency’s staff were fired following the accusations.

“Italy has decided to resume financing specific projects destined to help Palestinian refugees but only after rigorous checks that guarantee that not one cent risks ending up supporting terrorism,” Tajani said.

UNRWA employs 13,000 people in Gaza, running the enclave’s schools, its primary healthcare clinics and other social services, and distributing humanitarian aid.

In recent weeks, several countries have resumed funding the agency. Germany said last month it would resume cooperation with UNRWA following a report led by former French foreign minister Catherine Colonna into UNRWA’s procedures for ensuring adherence to principles of neutrality.

Video showing an UNRWA worker driving a white UN jeep, and abducting the body of Jonathan Samerano, who was killed by Hamas terrorists on October 7. (Screenshot)

In February, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant claimed that of the 13,000 UNRWA employees in Gaza, at least 12 percent were affiliated with the Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) terror groups, including 1,468 employees active in Hamas and PIJ. Of those, 185 UNRWA workers were active in the military branches of Hamas, and 51 in the PIJ military branch, he said.

Gallant also alleged that at least 12 UNRWA employees took an active part in the October 7 massacre and that at least 30 more assisted by facilitating the taking of hostages and looting from Israeli communities overrun by Hamas terrorists.

A screenshot of drone footage released by the IDF on May 14, 2024, shows Palestinian gunmen next to UN vehicles at a UNRWA logistics center in Gaza’s southernmost city of Rafah. (Israel Defense Forces)

The IDF has also uncovered several terror tunnels running under UNRWA compounds in Gaza and documented terror operatives in UN facilities.

Numerous reports have found that UNRWA schools and teachers continue to teach hatred of Jews and glorify terrorism.

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