Japan Resumes Funding to Hamas-Linked UNRWA After October 7 Pause


The Japanese government said on Tuesday it will lift its suspension of funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA)

Japan, like many other donors, suspended funding in January after evidence surfaced that UNRWA staff participated in the savage October 7 Hamas terrorist attack on Israel.

Japanese Foreign Minister Kamikawa Yoko announced the resumption of funding after meeting with UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini in Tokyo.

Kamikawa did not address the allegations of terrorism against UNRWA employees directly but implied that the urgency of providing humanitarian relief to Gaza was too great to continue withholding funds.

“Japan will lift the moratorium on its financial contributions to UNRWA and provide assistance while ensuring and confirming the appropriateness of Japan’s funds,” she told reporters on Tuesday.

“The humanitarian situation in the Palestinian territory of Gaza continues to worsen. It is our country’s responsibility to respond to the crisis as a member of the U.N. Security Council,” she said, describing UNRWA’s work as “indispensable.”

Japan’s Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa (R) and UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini (L) attend a meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Tokyo on March 28, 2024. (YUICHI YAMAZAKI/AFP via Getty Images)

A Foreign Ministry official told Kyodo News that Japanese employees of UNRWA would be tasked with monitoring “whether the nation’s contribution is being used appropriately” or not. Tokyo is allegedly ready to “take necessary steps” if any funds are misused.

The official said Japan would release $35 million in funding to UNRWA. It earmarked another $10 million for “improving sanitary conditions and delivering essential goods for women and infants in the Gaza Strip.” The rest is intended to “support Palestinian refugees in the West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.”

Another senior Foreign Ministry official told reporters on Tuesday that Japan is not prepared to comment on the allegations of Hamas terrorists infiltrating UNRWA because an investigation by the U.N. Office of Internal Oversight Services is ongoing.

The Israeli government in January disclosed intelligence that showed that at least 12 named UNRWA staffers “actively participated” in the October 7 massacre of more than 1,200 Israeli civilians. The named staffers included UNRWA school teachers, counselors, and social workers.

Among other evidence, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) provided audio recordings of UNRWA employees gloating about kidnapping and sexually abusing Israeli women.

Israel further alleged that some 12 percent of UNRWA’s 13,000 employees in Gaza are linked to either Hamas or Palestinian Islamic Jihad, another terrorist group.

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U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he was “horrified” by the allegations and promised an “urgent and comprehensive independent review of UNRWA” would be undertaken. However, he insisted full funding of the agency should continue without interruption.

Lazzarini called the allegations “shocking” and promised to immediately terminate the specific employees Israel accused of participating in the October 7 rape and murder spree but likewise insisted his agency should remain fully funded and supported because “more than two million people in Gaza depend on lifesaving assistance that the Agency has been providing since the war began.”

The United States, UNRWA’s largest donor by far, suspended funding, and 15 allied countries followed suit, including Japan, the sixth-largest donor.

The U.N. launched a full-court press to get the money flowing again with considerable success. Canada, Australia, Sweden, Finland, Iceland, the European Commission, and now Japan have all announced funding for UNRWA will resume without any satisfactory conclusion to the investigation of Palestinian terrorist infiltration.

The U.S. and the United Kingdom are still withholding money for UNRWA, although both governments are under heavy pressure to resume funding.

The U.S. Congress passed an appropriations bill that would freeze UNRWA funding until March 2025. The measure was praised by Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz, who said the “historic ban on U.S. funding” demonstrated “what we knew all along: UNRWA is part of the problem, and cannot be part of the solution.”

“UNRWA will not be a part of Gaza’s landscape in the aftermath of Hamas. Thousands of UNRWA employees are involved in Hamas terror activities and their facilities were used for terrorist purposes,” Katz said, urging other countries to follow America’s lead and keep their wallets closed.

In the UK, a group of more than 50 Members of Parliament and peers wrote a letter to Foreign Secretary David Cameron on Saturday, urging him to be satisfied with UNRWA’s interim reports on its Hamas problem and resume funding for the agency “without delay.”

“By reinstating funding to UNRWA, the UK can demonstrate its commitment to upholding human rights, promoting stability in the region and fostering a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” said the letter, which MP Brendan O’Hara wrote.

“Since the grave allegations from Israeli authorities about UNRWA, two independent investigations have taken place. Following their conclusion, our allies in Canada, France, Finland, Australia, Sweden and the European Union have all restored funding. So why hasn’t the UK?” O’Hara asked two days before Japan also resumed its contributions.

“UNRWA has played a vital role in supporting the approximately 1.9 million internally displaced Palestinians throughout this conflict,” he continued. “Cutting off their funding has done monumental reputation damage and has risked derailing the critical lifesaving work they do.”


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