U.N. workers played a direct role in

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At least 12 employees of the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees participated in or aided the Oct. 7 terrorist attack on Israel, according to Israeli intelligence dossiers obtained by NBC News, which accuse the workers of actions ranging from kidnapping Israelis to supplying logistical support. 

The 12 include seven teachers, two school administrators and a social worker employed by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, or UNRWA, which provides education, food and health care to a large percentage of the roughly 2 million people living in Gaza.

A counselor at an UNRWA school is alleged to have taken part in the kidnapping of a female hostage on Oct. 7. An elementary school teacher is accused of having participated in the attack on Re’im, where dozens of Israelis were killed and hostages were taken. Another teacher is alleged to have equipped himself with anti-tank weapons the night before the attack. 

A math teacher alleged to be a Hamas operative is accused of having photographed a woman who was kidnapped, and another math teacher from a different Hamas battalion is accused of having crossed into Israeli territory on the day of the attack. 

The information compiled in the two dossiers was shared with U.S. officials Wednesday, prompting the U.S. to suspend financial support to the organization. In the ensuing days, eight other countries, including the U.K., Germany and Finland, followed suit.  

UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini said Friday that he fired several employees and launched an investigation “in order to establish the truth without delay.” 

Of the 12 employees who were implicated, nine were immediately identified and terminated, one was confirmed dead and the identities of two others were under investigation, the U.N. said in a statement Sunday.

“Any UNRWA employee who was involved in acts of terror will be held accountable, including through criminal prosecution,” the statement from U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres added.

The CIA and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence declined to comment.

Israel has long accused UNRWA of being used by Hamas to conceal weapons and entrances to tunnels. Current and former Israeli security officials told NBC News that Hamas has used UNRWA schools and hospitals as cover for its terrorist operations and in fighting the Israeli Defense Forces during the current war.

UNRWA has denied the allegations.

The dossiers came to light following a trickle of allegations against UNRWA since the start of the war, including from a returned hostage who said he was held captive in the home of an UNRWA teacher.

The intelligence dossiers shook the international aid community at a time when Gaza is grappling with a severe humanitarian crisis. 

Israel has been launching attacks on Gaza for months in retaliation for the Hamas terrorist attack, which killed 1,200 people and led to the kidnappings of at least 200, according to the Israeli government. More than 100 hostages are still being held in Gaza, including 14 women and two young children.

Officials with the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry say more than 26,000 Gazans, many of them women and children, have been killed since the start of the war. 

It is not the first time the U.S. has suspended funding to UNRWA. The Trump administration halted payments in 2018, but the Biden administration restored the funding in 2021.

UNRWA officials have expressed dismay that countries had suspended funding and warned that it will have dire consequences.

“The lives of people in Gaza depend on this support, and so does regional stability,” Lazzarini said.

At a briefing Monday, White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said those implicated in the intelligence reports represent only a small fraction of the people who work at UNRWA.

“Let’s not impugn the good work of a whole agency because of the potential bad actions here by a small number,” Kirby said.

Raf Sanchez

Dan De Luce contributed.

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