By Latheef Farook
In the wake of International Court of Justice, ICJ, ruling on Israeli genocide in Gaza on Friday 26 January 2024, many western countries which support Israeli genocide in Gaza have cut off badly needed funds for United Nations Relief and Works Agency-UNRWA – the sole lifeline of Palestinian refugees.
These countries – US, UK,Switzerland, Germany, Australia, Italy, Canada, Finland and Netherlands – decided to suspend funding to UNRWA after Israeli allegations that twelve staff members were involved in the Hamas incursion into Israel on 7 October last year. No evidence was presented; just allegations against twelve employees out of 30000 across the agency’s areas of operation, upon which the nine governments acted like the obedient lapdogs that they are.
UNRWA was first established in 1949 to help the Palestinian forcibly displaced from their homes by Zionist Jews when they committed genocide to create the settler state of Israel on Palestinian lands.UNRWA provides essential services upon which Palestinian refugees depend. This in turn, serves Israel’s colonization plans.
Today UNRWA exists because it allowed Israeli colonialism to thrive while preventing Palestinians from their political right to return to their land and homes.It is a cycle in which only one winner emerges, either way, and Palestinians remain pawns in the game because UNRWA takes priority, either because Israel calls for its dismantling, or because Palestinians are in dire need of its service.
Putting UNRWA in the spotlight has been a tactic that Israel has used frequently, and one that the UN has allowed. UNRWA exists for a purpose that is more political than humanitarian due to the history that founded it, and which allowed Israeli colonialism to thrive while preventing Palestinians from their political right to return to their land and homes.
Suspending the fund was not something unexpected. Columnist Ramona Wadi pointed out that in 2018, the Trump administration cut off US funding for UNRWA . A similar pattern has now emerged.Israel’s classified foreign ministry report seek to eliminate UNRWA from Gaza in three steps: alleged cooperation of UNRWA staff members with Hamas; a reduction of UNRWA services in Gaza; and ultimately the transfer of all of the agency’s duties to the entity governing Gaza after Israel decides that it has quenched its thirst for death and destruction.
Thus Israel uses starvation as a weapon of war in Gaza. Nine out of 10 people in Gaza cannot eat every day and have to skip meals for extended periods of time
The UN has sounded the alarm over the funding suspension, knowing full well that some of its member states are complicit in Israel’s aim of destroying UNRWA to make Gaza even more susceptible to annihilation. Since the UN’s power lies largely with the same member states whose allegiance to Israel is paramount, what stops this collective imperialist endeavour from committing genocide against the Palestinian population? They are already all complicit in this most serious of crimes.
Former UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness pointed out, though, that: “the Israelis have said they cannot win the war on Gaza unless UNRWA is disbanded. So what clearer signal do you want?” ” Gunness made a valid point in reiterating Israel’s intent to have UNRWA shut down. Earlier in January, former Israeli foreign minister official Noga Arbell called for this to happen: “It will be impossible to win the war if we do not destroy UNRWA.”
According to the WFP, there is a serious risk of starvation and famine in Gaza. UN officials have said that 1.9 million people, over 85 per cent of Gaza’s population of 2.3 million, are internally displaced, adding that the conditions in an ever-shrinking southern area of the Gaza strip could become “even more hellish.”
A UN report has found that Gaza’s entire population is facing acute food shortages, with the besieged enclave at risk of famine if the Israeli onslaught continues .The percentage of families in Gaza experiencing severe acute food insecurity is the highest ever documented worldwide, outranking Afghanistan and Sudan., The UN’s hunger monitoring body said “virtually all” households in the Gaza Strip are skipping meals daily, with four out of five households in the north and half of displaced households in the south going entire days without eating
According to Palestine Chronicle some 21 global aid organizations have slammed the decision as “reckless” by certain countries to suspend funding for the UNRWA), which it says is the main aid provider for millions of Palestinians in Gaza and the region.
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 move, the agencies pointed out, “will impact life-saving assistance for over two million civilians, over half of whom are children, who rely on UNRWA aid in Gaza”.
As UNRWA is the largest humanitarian agency in Gaza, “their delivery of humanitarian assistance cannot be replaced by other agencies working in Gaza.”
If the funding suspensions are not reversed, the organizations stressed, “we may see a complete collapse of the already restricted humanitarian response in Gaza.”With approximately over one million displaced Palestinians taking shelter in or around 154 UNRWA shelters, the agency and aid organizations have continued to work in near-impossible circumstances to provide food, vaccinations, and freshwater, the statement said.
It added that the countries suspending funds risk “further depriving” Palestinians in the region of essential food, water, medical assistance and supplies, education and protection.The agencies urged donor states to reaffirm support for the vital work that UNRWA and its partners do “to help Palestinians survive one of the worst humanitarian catastrophes of our times”.
UNRWA Commissioner General, Philippe Lazzarini, has warned of the serious implications of sanctioning the entire population of Gaza because of the allegations against a few individuals within the organization.“Many are hungry as the clock is ticking towards a looming famine,” he stressed.
According to Gaza’s Ministry of Health, 26,751 Palestinians have been killed, and 65,636 wounded in Israel’s ongoing genocide in Gaza starting on October 7. Palestinian and international estimates say that the majority of those killed and wounded are women and children.
Disclaimer: Western countries Stop Funds for UNRWA to Starve Palestinians. - Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Latheefarook.com point-of-view