According to a recent report, the Trump administration has decided to forgo requests by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, and continue to provide funds to the U.N. Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). The UNRWA, a UN relief agency responsible for providing aid to Palestinian refugees, will continue to receive upwards of $300 million in funding from the U.S. each year. As of December 2016, the U.S. ranks as the largest overall donor to the UNRWA, more than doubling the second largest contribution from the EU.
The issue arising from provisioning the group with funds stems from the UNRWAs’ ties to the terror organization Hamas. Hamas, which has been listed as a “Foreign Terrorist Organization” by the U.S. Department of State since 1997, has been responsible for the murder of over 60 U.S. citizens since 1993, including the 2001 bombing of a pizza restaurant in Jerusalem resulting in the in the deaths of 15 (2 Americans) and injuring over 122.
Disobedient Media has reported on previous instances of the UN’s support for groups who have been accused of serious human rights abuses,, including the KLA during the Kosovo conflict.
I. Hamas Leadership in UNRWA
The UNRWA has deep ties to the terror organization Hamas; In a 2004 interview, then UNRWA Commissioner-General Peter Hansen, stated that he is “sure that there are Hamas members on the UNRWA payroll and I don’t see that as a crime.” That the Commissioner of the UN Agency in question would not only admit, but defend the UNRWA’s connection with a terror group is extremely disturbing, and raises serious questions regarding US financial support for UNRWA.
In 2016, Avi Dichter, the former head of the Israeli Security Agency (ISA), claimed that almost 100% of UNRWA workers in the Gaza region are active members of Hamas.
In February, the UNRWA was forced to terminate the employment of the chairman of its Palestinian workers’ union, Suhail al-Hindi, after it was discovered that he had been elected to Hamas’s leadership.
That same month, it was reported that Muhammad al-Jamassi, a senior engineer employed by the UNRWA, was also elected to Hamas leadership. Jamassi has held various positions in Hamas since 2007, including serving in Hamas’ public relations department, as well as many of its affiliated charities.
The numerous instances of UNRWA admitting its deeply tied to Hamas, in addition to the numerous figures from the agency having being employed as leaders for Hamas, should be of serious concern to Americans whose taxes are being used to support the UNRWA.
II. UNRWA Aiding and Abetting Terrorism
It has also been found that the UNRWA has been cooperating and working directly with Hamas’s terrorist activities.
In fact, this cooperation is so great, that Hamas’ own Minister of Religion stated: “Hamas’ relationship with UNRWA is good, very good! We assist UNRWA and Hamas cooperates with UNRWA on many levels. Now a direct connection exists between UNRWA and Hamas.”
In 2014 the head of the IDF’s Maglan commando, Lt. Gen. Yuval, stated that Hamas was using equipment supplied by the UNRWA to dig their longest tunnels under Israeli territory. Within these tunnels, Israeli Defense Forces found weapons and bunkers capable of withstanding air strikes, as well as supplies from the UNRWA.
In July of 2014, the UNRWA reported that during a “routine inspection” they had discovered rockets being stored in one of their Gaza schools. This was the third such incident to take place that month. After confiscating the weapons, the UNRWA handed them over to “local authorities”, who, in turn, answer to Hamas.
III. UNRWA Schools Complicit in Teaching Radicalism
UNRWA Schools in Hamas controlled regions have been found to be teaching anti-Israeli lessons, as well as promoting the radicalization of youth. This is allowed to happen in schools in these particular regions because of the UNRWAs’ policy that, “UNRWA’s Schoolchildren in UNRWA schools follow the host authorities’ curricula and textbooks.”
In 2015, a UNRWA school for Palestinian refugees in Syria came under scrutiny after it posted anti-Semitic cartoons on its Facebook page, calling for the murder of Jews.
In the documentary “Children’s Army of Hamas”, the Center for Near East Policy Research (CNEPR) exposes the relationship between UNRWA schools and Hamas. The film documents how the UNRWA allocates cash from donor nations in order to provide military training for students in UNRWA classrooms, alongside weapons training camps organized by Al-Kutla al-Islamiya, a division of Hamas. This allows children at UN-affiliated schools to learn how to shoot weapons, use grenades, and ultimately pave the way for recruitment into Hamas’ military wing.
Furthermore, in February of 2017, the watchdog group “UN Watch”, released a 130-page report detailing the actions of teachers and staff engaged in inciting their students to jihadist terrorism and antisemitism. The report lists the names of those involved, providing examples of their participation. These examples include: celebrating the kidnapping of Israeli teenagers by terrorists, cheering rockets being fired at Israeli civilian centers, praising Hitler and posting with his photo, erasing Israel off the face of the map, as well as endorsing various forms of violence against Israelis.
As a result, the radicalization in these schools has become so prevalent, that Former Israeli Defense Forces Intelligence Officer, Jonathan Halevi, has estimated that nearly 60 percent of homicide bombers were educated in UNRWA schools.
The explicit coordination between Hamas and the UN Agency UNRWA raises serious concern not only because it shows a troubling example of the UN supporting terrorism, but also because the agency is funded to a large degree by U.S. tax dollars.