Critics Blast UN For Ignoring Longstanding Ties Between UNRWA And Hamas


Authored by Dan M. Berger via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

That the United Nations fired a dozen employees of its Palestine relief agency for involvement in Hamas’s gruesome Oct. 7, 2023, massacre seems underwhelming to scholars and policy experts on the issue.

(Illustration by The Epoch Times, Getty Images, Freepix)

They see it as a long time coming on a far deeper problem the U.N. consistently has refused to face and use terms such as “damage control” and “sweeping it under the carpet” to describe what’s happening.

“It’s wonderful to see people finally waking up to this fact,” said Simone Ledeen, a high-ranking Defense Department official during the Trump administration.

They’re waking up to this fact, but also, my understanding is they were faced with undeniable proof. We already had proof, proof that existed prior to Oct. 7.

The agency—the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, or UNRWA—has long been accused of having extensive involvement with Hamas, which has ruled the Gaza Strip since 2007.

The U.S. government has classified Hamas as a terrorist organization since 1997.

After Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, UNRWA is the Gaza Strip’s largest employer. Nearly all its employees are Palestinians, unique among U.N. relief agencies.

The agency, for almost 75 years, has made no effort to resettle Palestinians, instead keeping alive the increasingly unlikely hope that they will one day return to what is now the Jewish state of Israel.

UNRWA’s defenders say not resettling them is explicit in the agency’s charter.

Hamas has long used UNRWA schools, hospitals, and other buildings as human shields, a war crime under the Fourth Geneva Convention and sanctionable by a U.S. president under the 2018 Shields Act.

A man drives a damaged truck into a U.N Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) school in Khan Yunis, in the southern Gaza Strip on Oct. 21, 2023. (Mahmud Hams/AFP via Getty Images)

Hamas stores weapons in, near, or under UNRWA facilities and has built its extensive terror tunnel system under them. They’ve commandeered relief food and supplies that the agency was supposed to distribute to civilians.

Israel has long accused UNRWA schools of teaching hate, the sort on display on Oct. 7, 2023, when terrorists murdered, raped, tortured, and burned their way through Israel’s border communities. They even shot family dogs.

They filmed themselves doing it, posted those videos on social media, brought hostages back to Gaza, and abused them and the bodies of those they’d killed in front of cheering civilians.

U.S. Sens. John Kennedy (R-La.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) introduced legislation on Jan. 31 requiring the State Department to monitor what is being taught in Palestinian schools, an educational system U.S. taxpayers have been helping to pay for.

The State Department said on Jan. 26 that it had “temporarily paused” U.S. funding of UNRWA while it reviewed allegations against the agency.

The pause occurred a day after Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres about the need for a thorough investigation.

Mr. Guterres’s spokesperson said the secretary-general was “horrified” after learning of the Israeli allegations that a dozen U.N. staff participated in the raid, including seven who stormed into Israeli territory.

One of those allegedly participated in a kidnapping, and another helped steal a soldier’s body.

A Palestinian woman walks past the shuttered headquarters of the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Refugees (UNRWA) in Gaza City on Nov. 29, 2021. (Mohammed Abed/AFP via Getty Images)

UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini on Jan. 26 described the allegations as “shocking” and “horrific” and said he was firing the implicated employees immediately.

Two are believed to be dead.

They are positioning themselves as very surprised by the evidence,” Kobi Michael, a professor affiliated with two Israeli think tanks, the National Security Institute and the Misgav Institute, told The Epoch Times.

“They are trying to create the image that they are taking the issue very seriously, and they are going to tackle the problems immediately. ‘We fire 12 people,’ and they believe that this will silence the criticism.

“And it will enable the U.N. to continue operating UNRWA. Because UNRWA is a political tool that is operated by the U.N. for political purposes.”

Hillel Neuer, executive director of U.N. Watch, a pro-Israel watchdog group, testified to the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s subcommittees on Oversight and Accountability, and Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations, on Jan. 30.

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