"Israel’s allegation – that 12 of UNRWA’s 30,000 employees may have participated in the October 7 Hamas attack in some way and that 190 UNRWA employees are double agents – has not been proven and must be approached with significant caution and qualification."
January 29, 2024
Carl Fleming, Managing Editor, Cape Breton Post
Chris Shannon, News Editor, Cape Breton Post
Brian Moss, Trust Principles, Reuters
Dan Williams, Journalist, Reuters
Dear Carl Fleming, Chris Shannon, Brian Moss, and Dan Williams,
I’m writing to express concern about a recent Reuters article published in Saltwire, “Israel accuses 190 UN staff of being 'hardened' militants,” on January 29, 2024.
There are some alarming differences between this article and the Associated Press report on the same subject. The Associated Press reports:
The document said intelligence gathered showed that at least 190 UNRWA workers were Hamas or Islamic Jihad operatives, without providing evidence. [Emphasis added.]
Notice the dramatic difference in Reuters’s reporting:
The six-page dossier, seen by Reuters, alleges that some 190 UNRWA employees, including teachers, have doubled as Hamas or Islamic Jihad militants. It has names and pictures for 11 them.… An Israeli official told Reuters the 190 mentioned in the dossier were "hardened fighters, killers" whereas overall some 10% of UNRWA staff were believed to have more general affiliation with Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
As you can see by comparing the reporting in these two articles, there is no qualification for the absence of evidence provided by Israel in the Reuters article. Instead, Israeli sources are cited to add more credence to the allegations. However, it has been reported that Israel’s allegations were attained through interrogation, while it is well documented that Israel routinely uses torture to gain forced confessions from detainees, including children. Also, Israel has a pattern of manufacturing false claims against humanitarian and human rights organizations in order to persecute them, as in the case of political prisoner Mohammed El-Halabi or the 6 Palestinian human rights organizations criminalized in 2021.
Israel’s allegation – that 12 of UNRWA’s 30,000 employees may have participated in the October 7 Hamas attack in some way and that 190 UNRWA employees are double agents – has not been proven and must be approached with significant caution and qualification.
I am urging you to update your article to provide this essential information. Otherwise, readers will continue being misled about the existing evidence backing these allegations.
During a moment in which countries are facing pressure to defund an aid organization that is working to mitigate the impact of a plausible case of genocide, such missing qualifications are irresponsible and dangerous and must be avoided.
Director of Media Advocacy, Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East