UN chief Antonio Guterres has pleaded for donor states to "guarantee the continuity" of the body's Palestinian refugee agency (UNRWA) after several halted funding over accusations of staff involvement in Hamas's October 7 attack on Israel.
"While I understand their concerns -- I was myself horrified by these accusations -- I strongly appeal to the governments that have suspended their contributions to, at least, guarantee the continuity of UNRWA's operations," Guterres said in a statement.
Israel has alleged several UNRWA staff were involved in Hamas's attack, leading a number of key donor countries to suspend their funding.
The agency has fired several staff over Israel's accusations, promising a thorough investigation into the claims, which were not specified.
Israel has meanwhile vowed to stop the agency's work in Gaza after the war.
The row between Israel and UNRWA follows the UN's International Court of Justice ruling on Friday that Israel must prevent possible acts of genocide in the war and allow more aid into Gaza.
"The abhorrent alleged acts of these staff members must have consequences," Guterres said.
"But 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 penalized," he added.
"The dire needs of the desperate populations they serve must be met."
Guterres confirmed that 12 UNRWA employees were cited in the accusations, which the United Nations is investigating.
Nine have been fired, one is dead, and "the identity of the two others is being clarified", he said.
Several key donor countries to UNRWA have said they will temporarily suspend their current or future funding following the allegations, including the United States, Britain, Canada and Switzerland.