Mr. Guterres has also asked UNRWA head, Philippe Lazzarini, to refer any employees found to have taken part in or “abetted what transpired” in the brutal attacks by Hamas and other Palestinian militants that day, “for potential criminal prosecution.”
“The Secretary-General is horrified by this news,” Mr. Guterres’ Spokesperson, Stéphane Dujarric, said in a statement issued on Friday morning in New York, noting that the UN chief had been briefed on the allegations by the UNRWA Commissioner-General.
Urgent independent review
An urgent and comprehensive independent review of UNRWA will be conducted, the statement added.
The UNRWA chief said information had been provided by Israeli authorities of the alleged involvement of some agency staff members.
“To protect the agency’s ability to deliver humanitarian assistance, I have taken the decision to immediately terminate the contracts of these staff members and launch an investigation in order to establish the truth without delay,” Mr. Lazzarini said.
“Any UNRWA employee who was involved in acts of terror will be held accountable, including through criminal prosecution,” he added.
He reiterated UNRWA’s condemnation of the terror attacks in the “strongest possible terms” and called again for the immediate and unconditional release of all Israeli hostages.
Betrayal of ‘fundamental values’
“These shocking allegations come as more than two million people in Gaza depend on lifesaving assistance that the agency has been providing since the war began,” Mr. Lazzarini said.
“Anyone who betrays the fundamental values of the United Nations also betrays those whom we serve in Gaza, across the region and elsewhere around the world.”