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What are UNRWA workers in Gaza accused of, which nations have paused funding and what happens next?

The UK and the US are among more than 10 countries that have suspended funding to the UN's relief agency in Gaza.

The move comes after an Israeli intelligence dossier claimed 12 employees at the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) were involved in the attack on Israel by Hamas fighters on 7 October.

The head of the UN has urged nations to keep funding UNRWA, with the agency saying the "sheer survival" of people in Gaza depends on its work.

Here we take a look at the specific claims made against the employees, the countries that have suspended funding and what happens next.

What is UNRWA?

The UN relief agency supports Palestinian refugees in Gaza, east Jerusalem and the West Bank, as well as Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.

It offers services including healthcare, education, food aid, social services, infrastructure, camp improvement and emergency response - including in situations of armed conflict.

UNRWA says nearly two million refugees access the health services it offers, while 1.2 million refugees in Gaza access the food aid it supplies.

The agency was established in 1949 following the first Arab-Israeli war - when more than 700,000 Palestinian Arabs were forced to flee their homes to Gaza, the West Bank or neighbouring countries.

What have UNRWA employees been accused of?

A six-page Israeli dossier, shared by US officials and seen by the Associated Press and Reuters, claims 12 UNRWA employees were involved in the attack by Palestinian group Hamas on Israel on 7 October.

The Israeli intelligence document lists their alleged roles in the attack alongside photographs and job descriptions - saying nine of the employees were teachers while one was a social worker. The names and photos of the accused workers could not immediately be verified.

Sky News has been told the dossier claims six of the workers crossed into Israel on the day of the incursion - when Hamas fighters killed more than 1,200 people and captured around 240 hostages.

A seventh worker is said to have provided logistics support in relation to the deadly attack.

Of those seven people, four were alleged to have kidnapped or assisted in the abduction of Israelis and another two were said to have participated in raids on communal farming villages.

The document claims a teacher, who was among the 12 employees, armed himself with an anti-tank missile the night before the attack, while another teacher is said to have taken photos of a female hostage.

Another of the employees is said to be a school counsellor who provided unspecified assistance to his son in the abduction of a woman during the Hamas attack.

While another person, said to be a UNRWA social worker, is accused of unspecified involvement in the transfer of a killed Israeli soldier's corpse to Gaza. They are also accused of being involved in coordinating the movements of pick-up trucks used by the Hamas militants who entered Israel.

One of the 12 is accused of taking part in an attack on the Israeli border village Be'eri, where one tenth of the residents were killed.

Another is accused of participating in an attack on Reim, the site both of an army base that was overrun and a festival where more than 360 people died.

Two of the 12 have been killed, according to the dossier, while the UN previously said one was still being identified.

UNRWA employs 13,000 people in Gaza, with Israel's dossier claiming intelligence shows at least 190 of them were Hamas or Palestinian Islamic Jihad operatives. The document does not provide evidence of the claim.

What action has UNWRA taken?

Following the accusations, the UN condemned "the abhorrent alleged acts" and sacked nine of the 12 accused workers, while two are reported to have died and the last is still being identified.

Which countries have suspended funding to the agency?

The UK and the US are joined by Germany, Italy, Australia, Canada and Finland in putting a pause on their funding of the agency.

Japan, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Austria have also halted funding.

Together the countries provided more than 60% of UNRWA's budget in 2022.

What has the UN said?

Antonio Guterres, the head of the UN, said he was "horrified" by the accusations against the 12 employees but implored nations to continue funding UNRWA for humanitarian reasons.

The UN chief said: "The tens of thousands of men and women who work for UNRWA, many in some of the most dangerous situations for humanitarian workers, should not be penalised.

"The dire needs of the desperate populations they serve must be met."

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UNRWA's communications director Juliette Touma has said the agency will be forced to stop its support in Gaza by the end of February if funding isn't restored.

The pause in funding presents a huge problem for the agency and the people of Gaza - with more than half of the 2.3 million Palestinians in the territory relying on it for day-to-day assistance

Meanwhile, Philippe Lazzarini, UNRWA commission general, said: "UNRWA is the primary humanitarian agency in Gaza, with over two million people depending on it for their sheer survival.

"Many are hungry as the clock is ticking towards a looming famine. The agency runs shelters for over one million people and provides food and primary healthcare even at the height of the hostilities."

What happens next?

Mr Guterres has said in a statement that any "UN employee involved in acts of terror will be held accountable, including through criminal prosecution".

It is therefore expected the nine fired members of staff will be investigated and could face charges.

Meanwhile, talks are likely to take place between the UN and the countries who have paused funding in an effort for the payments to resume.

Israel is expected to push back against the lifting of the suspensions, having long called for the agency to be dismantled, arguing that its mission is obsolete and it fosters anti-Israeli sentiment among its staff, in its schools and in its wider social mission.

UNRWA strongly disputes that characterisation.