UN Alleges Israel Tortured Staff to Generate Hamas ‘Intel’

The torture included waterboarding, beatings, and threats to the family

At least some of the evidence Israeli used to allege ties between the UN Palestinian Aid Agency (UNRWA) and Hamas was obtained through the torture of the organization’s staff members, according to a report by the United Nations. After the Israelis made the allegations, the US cut funding to UNRWA. Secretary of State Antony Blinken initially labeled the Israeli assertions as “highly, highly credible.

On Friday, Reuters reported that it reviewed an 11-page UN investigation into claims that UNRWA had substantial ties with Hamas. “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 7 October 2023 atrocities,” the report says.

The investigation concluded the coercion “included severe physical beatings, waterboarding, and threats of harm to family members,” according to the outlet. UNRWA did not provide transcripts to Reuters, and the Israeli military declined to comment.

Additionally, the UNRWA report found significant abuse of all Palestinians detained in facilities. Reuters said the abuse listed in the report included, “beatings, humiliation, threats, dog attacks, sexual violence, and deaths of detainees denied medical treatment.”

Multiple news outlets and human rights organizations have documented the torture of Palestinians in Israeli detention facilities since October 7. According to +972 Magazine, “Israeli soldiers subjected Palestinian detainees to electric shocks, burned their skin with lighters, spat in their mouths, and deprived them of sleep, food, and access to bathrooms until they defecated on themselves.”

The Tel Aviv-based outlet continued, “Some testified to having been beaten all over their bodies and having cigarettes extinguished on their necks or backs. Several people are known to have died as a result of being held in these conditions.”

In January, Israel announced it had compiled an intelligence dossier that found 12 members of UNRWA had participated in the October 7 Hamas attack on Israel, also claiming thousands of other staffers had ties to the group. However, several media outlets were allowed to view a version of the dossier provided by Tel Aviv and reported that it did not contain any evidence for the charges.

Still, the White House endorsed the Israeli claims, and Washington led over a dozen Western countries in cutting around $450 million in funds to UNRWA. Tucked into a massive $95 billion supplemental military spending bill is a provision that prohibits aid from going to UNRWA based on the Israeli accusations against the organization.

As it has become increasingly clear that Tel Aviv’s assertions lack substance, an official in Norway said countries that suspended funding were having regrets.

Canada, one of the 16 countries to halt aid to UNRWA, announced it had reversed its decision on Friday. Minister of International Development Ahmed Hussen said the move was carried out “in recognition of the robust investigative process underway” into the allegations and the pause in donations was being lifted “so more can be done to respond to the urgent needs of Palestinian civilians.”

Humanitarian experts and even the Israeli military have warned that a halt to UNRWA aid would spell disaster for Gaza. “If UNRWA ceases operating on the ground, this could cause a humanitarian catastrophe that would force Israel to halt its fighting against Hamas,” a senior Israeli official told the Times of Israel. “This would not be in Israel’s interest and it would not be in the interest of Israel’s allies either.”

Michael Fakhri, UN special rapporteur on the right to food, posted on X, “Some states decided to defund UNRWA for the alleged actions of a small number of employees. This collectively punishes +2.2 million Palestinians. Famine was imminent. Famine is now inevitable.”

Since the countries have cut funds to UNRWA, 16 premature babies have died from malnutrition related issues, and 20 other people have starved to death. “The child deaths we feared are here,” Adele Khodr, UNICEF’s Middle East chief, explained.

Kyle Anzalone is the opinion editor of Antiwar.com, news editor of the Libertarian Institute, and co-host of Conflicts of Interest.