Uptade Israeli strike on car in south Lebanon kills Hamas member, Hamas source says

LONDON: The US, UK, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Finland, the Netherlands, and Australia will not lift their suspension of funding to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees pending the evaluation of two forthcoming reports, UK Foreign Office Minister Andrew Mitchell has said.

In contrast, Sweden, Canada, and the European Commission have all decided to resume financial support to the agency.

The awaited reports are from an internal UN investigation and Catherine Colonna, a former French foreign minister, who was in Israel in March to gather evidence from the government over its allegations that at least 12 UNRWA staff had been involved in the Oct. 7 attack.

UNRWA has said some employees released in Gaza from Israeli detention reported having been put under pressure by Israeli authorities into falsely saying the agency had links with Hamas and that staff had taken part in the attacks on Israel.

The document said several Palestinian UNRWA staffers had been detained by the Israeli army, adding that the ill-treatment and abuse they claimed they had experienced included severe physical beatings, waterboarding, and threats of harm to family members.

The report added: “Agency staff members have been subject to threats and coercion by the Israeli authorities while in detention, and pressured to make false statements against the agency, including that the agency has affiliations with Hamas and that UNRWA staff members took part in the Oct. 7 atrocities.”

Colonna is expected to deliver her preliminary findings in late March, followed by a final report a month later. The validity of the evidence presented by Israel is under scrutiny.

Mitchell acknowledged a division within the international community regarding UNRWA funding.

He addressed calls to prohibit arms exports to Israel, saying: “The current judgment of the British government is that Israel has the capacity and intent to comply with international humanitarian law.”

Meanwhile, UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron has advocated for Israel to permit the entry of 500 trucks into Gaza daily.

Alicia Kearns, chair of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, has called on the UK to encourage Israel to increase aid deliveries to the Gaza Strip, following a proposition by Israeli spokesperson Eylon Levy to enhance aid by 100 trucks daily.

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