AUGUST 10, 2017 – JERUSALEM – The United Nations Relief and Works Agency, or UNRWA, allocates $1.2 billion from 68 donor nations to 59 “temporary” Arab refugee camps that were established in the wake of the Arab-Israel war in 1948. At that time, 500,000 Arabs fled the nascent State of Israel. That refugee population has grown to five million descendants of Arab refugees, with their childten indoctrinated by UNRWA schools to believe that they will retake villages their grandparents left in 1948, even though they no longer exist.
Over the last few years, our agency has documented how Hamas conducts military training for UNRWA children in weapons training camps. Kids are handed machine guns and schooled for war, with top Hamas officials on site encouraging jihad, and lecturing on the importance of taking back these villages by force of arms.
Once again this summer, Hamas ran military programs with live weapons camps for 120,000 teenagers – including tens of thousands who attend UNRWA schools during the school year.
Al-Kutla al-Islamiya, a division of Hamas, which runs their military activities, teaches UNRWA children how to fight, shoot lethal weapons, and use hand grenades in preparation for war for their “right of return.”
After exposure to al-Kutla, elementary and middle schoolers join the week-long war games program, held in a military encampment, where they study “jihad, determination, to trust Allah and other Islamic values” in addition to military tactics.
So there you have it. Without batting an eye-lash, a bonafide UN agency openly violates the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child, which states that “children should not be forced or recruited to take part in a war or join the armed forces”.
One might think that UNRWA would object to Hamas recruiting its students to become terrorists. The opposite is the case. On the record, the Hamas Minister of Religion told us in a filmed interview that “Hamas’ relationship with UNRWA is good, very good!” In addition, Hamas has a long history of promoting UNRWA educators and admistrators to top positions. Its founder, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, was a teacher in the UNRWA school system for 17 years. And its unions have been controlled by Hamas for decades. Last spring, UNRWA’s former union head Suhail al-Hindi was named to the Hamas cabinet, along with UNRWA’s infrastructure chief Muhammad al-Jamassi.
While the US is the lead Western donor to UNRWA, doling out $400 million each year to this Palestinian refugee agency, there has been little oversight of UNRWA.
On paper, binding legislation was passed by the US Congress back in 2003 does require UNRWA to vet personnel to determine if there are terrorists on their payroll.
Yet the US has never insisted that UNRWA vet its personnel.
The US Congressional Research Service now reports that the US has never checked to see if its humanitarian funds wind up in the coffers of Hamas.
Now the US Congress has taken off the gloves, and directed the General Accounting Office, the GAO, to make a final determination as to whether UNRWA is engaged in fomenting terror incitement.
Senator James Risch (R-Idaho), chairman of the US Senate Subcommittee on Near Eastern and South and Central Asian Affairs, disclosed to me that his office made the official request of the GAO, the US General Accounting office, for the first official investigation of the alleged involvement of terror groups with UNRWA. The question that the GAO has been asked to determine is whether UNRWA will be found in violation of US penal code § 2339B – providing material support to an entity designated as an FTO, a “foreign terrorist organization.”
In that context, there is a newly formed Knesset Lobby for UNRWA Policy Reform, chaired by MK Sharren Haskel from the Likud, which met in its first session at the Knesset in late July. The lobby will reconvene in late October, after the US GAO report on UNRWA terror involvement will be released. Knesset Member Avi Dichter, who chairs the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Security Committee, points a harsh finger at UNRWA, warning that “almost 100 percent” of UNRWA workers in Gaza are active in the Hamas terrorist organization.”
David Bedein, who has directed Israel Resource News Agency since 1987, administers the Center for Near East Policy Research. Contact him at israelbehindthenews.com.