Ex-UNRWA chief says timing of revelations is politically motivated

The former head of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), Matthias Schmale, has charged that the timing of revelations about alleged participation of several UNRWA workers in attacks on Israel is politically motivated.

Twelve employees of the UN relief agency are suspected of being involved in the major attack on Israel by the Palestinian Islamist organization Hamas on October 7.

The reports emerged shortly after the International Court of Justice’s ruling on the Gaza war on January 26, Schmale told German broadcaster Deutschlandfunk on Tuesday.

Schmale said it was entirely possible that the employees in question were involved, and noted that the reports didn’t surprise him. “But the timing seems very politically determined to me,” he stressed.

Schmale does not believe it is likely that around 10% of the aid agency’s approximately 12,000 employees working in the Gaza Strip have connections to Hamas or Islamist Jihad, as the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday, citing an Israeli intelligence dossier.

There are people among the employees who have sympathies for Hamas, he said. “But during my time, we always observed very closely how people work, how they behave, whether they behaved in accordance with UN values and took measures when we understood that this was not the case.”

At that time, eight people were “expelled” over a period of almost four years – not just because of connections to Hamas, but because of behavior that did not correspond to the values of the United Nations, said Schmale. That is a much smaller percentage.

“I think what has just appeared in the Wall Street Journal is totally exaggerated,” Schmale asserted.

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