Report: IDF was caught off guard by US knowledge of UNRWA allegations

United Nations and Red Crescent workers prepare the aid for distribution to Palestinians at UNRWA warehouse in Deir Al-Balah, Gaza Strip, on Oct. 23, 2023. (AP Photo/Hassan Eslaiah)
United Nations and Red Crescent workers prepare the aid for distribution to Palestinians at UNRWA warehouse in Deir Al-Balah, Gaza Strip, on Oct. 23, 2023. (AP Photo/Hassan Eslaiah)

Military intelligence incriminating 12 UNRWA staffers of involvement in the October 7 terror onslaught reportedly reached US officials without the knowledge of IDF leadership.

Amir Weissbrod, a deputy director general at the Foreign Ministry, brought the intelligence to UNRWA chief Philippe Lazzarini during a meeting on January 18, The New York Times reports.

Deeming the intelligence credible, Lazzarini flew to New York to meet with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres before proceeding to fire many of the staffers implicated.

On January 24, UNRWA brought US officials up to speed on what was unfolding, leading Washington to reach out to Jerusalem for more information on the matter.

The request caught military leaders completely off guard, unsure how the intelligence had reached the US. The IDF launched an internal inquiry to determine how the intelligence was leaked.

The IDF’s strategy directorate was concerned that the claims had been circulated without a proper strategy, according to the report.

Many military and government officials — including in the Foreign Ministry — were caught off guard by UNRWA’s announcement as well as subsequent ones by the US and roughly a dozen other countries who said they were suspending their funding to the UN relief agency for Palestinian refugees.

Israel has long taken issue with UNRWA, alleging that it is infiltrated and controlled by Hamas, that its facilities are used for terror activity, that its education system incites against Israel and that it perpetuates the refugee crisis.

However, a senior Israeli official briefing The Times of Israel earlier this week clarified that Jerusalem does not support the agency’s immediate dissolution because it is the main organization providing humanitarian aid in Gaza, preventing a humanitarian crisis that would force the IDF to halt its operations against Hamas.

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