The Americans have indicated repeatedly that they do not trust Hamas to direct aid money where its donors intend it. In its effort to maintain humanitarian aid for ordinary Palestinians while keeping it out of the hands of the terrorist government, the US is apparently planning to funnel more money through UNRWA (the UN Relief and Works Agency).
That’s a curious piece of logic.
UNRWA is a criminally negligent terrorist enabler that has done everything in its power in its 56 years of existence to promote Palestinian grievance — and violence — against Israel. The UNRWA was supposed to be a temporary organization, the purpose of which was to provide relief to the million or so Palestinians displaced by the Israeli War of Independence. It was distinct, however, from the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), which is responsible for the world’s refugees, in that its remit did not contain any obligation to actually assist in alleviating the Palestinians’ plight. Such a practical end would not have served its political purpose, which was quite different.
In its early days, while the Palestinians waited in vain for some genuine assistance, the self-designated responsibility of UNRWA was simply to define the term “Palestinian refugee”. Step one was to declare any Arab migrant who had lived in Palestine for two years a Palestinian refugee. Step two — an unprecedented and staggeringly fateful step — was to declare the descendants of refugees as refugees, a definition that the UNHCR has never applied to any other group. As a result of this arbitrary redefinition, the Palestinian refugee population has quadrupled since 1948. As far as I am aware, they are the only refugee population to increase in size with each passing year.
UNRWA’s political bias has been transparent from day one. Its entire ethos is based on the premise of a right of return that is not recognized in international law — thereby stoking a grievance among the refugee population rather than taking steps to improve their lives. The radicalism engendered by this approach is maintained by the UNRWA’s penchant for employing terrorists, an equal-opportunity policy that has resulted in the transformation of UNRWA refugee camps into bomb-manufacturing plants and terrorist-recruitment centers.
A report published by the Israel Resource News Agency and the American Center for Near East Policy Research goes into explicit detail on the UNRWA’s history of complicity with and encouragement of Palestinian terrorism. There are many illuminating passages in the report — about bald corruption, the mistrust many of the refugees themselves feel toward UNRWA, the unapologetic determination of UNRWA to educate generations of Palestinian youngsters to hate Israel, and so on. This last is particularly enlightening about UNRWA’s position and intentions. As the report states,
UNRWA runs one of the largest educational systems in the Arab world–providing schooling for the children of all families registered as refugees. It spends roughly half its budget on education; more than 70% of its staff is concerned with education. But UNRWA does not produce its own textbooks. It is stated UNRWA policy to utilize the textbooks of the host (administrative authority) of an area where a camp is located– Syrian textbooks in camps in Syria, etc.
The Committee for Monitoring the Impact of Peace (CMIP), using UNESCO guidelines, has done a thorough analysis of these books. Findings which can be found in their entirety at www.edume.org include the following:
- Israel’s name does not appear on any of the maps, and several Israeli cities, as well as an archaeological site, a region and mountain are defined as Palestinian.
- Jerusalem is presented as a Palestinian city.
- Peace is not mentioned at all, while war against Israel as a usurper, occupier and aggressor is implicitly encouraged.
- The refugee issue is also mentioned within the context of the destined return to the 1948 homes.
- There is praise of and encouragement for the waging of Jihad–Holy War.
- Jews and Israelis are represented as being cunning and deceitful.
The walls of UNRWA schools are plastered with Hamas, Islamic Jihad and PFLP graffiti, maps of Palestine that encompass the entire country of Israel, and violent imagery of machine guns, exploding Israeli boats, burning Israeli Jeeps, exploding grenades, and the like. As the report notes, in 2001 Hamas brought the linkage into the open by holding a conference at a UNRWA junior high school in the Jabalya refugee camp at which Sheik Ahmed Yassin told the students that they were the vanguard of the Palestinian jihad. “This is the generation of liberation and victory”, he said. “The Zionist enemy wants to overpower us and make us give up Palestine, Acre, Haifa, Jerusalem and the Al Aqsa mosque, but this will not happen”. Tellingly, Yassin was followed on the dais by Saheil Alhinadi, representing the UNRWA teaching sector. Alhinadi explicitly praised students who had recently become Hamas suicide bombers. In case the assembled student body missed the point, he went on to state: “The road to Palestine passes through the blood of the fallen, and these fallen have written history with parts of their flesh and their bodies”.
Of the 27,000 people who are employed by UNRWA in the territories, 23,000 of them are themselves Palestinian refugees, and a significant proportion of them are members of terrorist organizations. As IDF Colonel (ret.) Yoni Fighel, a former military governor in the territories, put it, “As long as UNRWA employees are members of Fatah, Hamas, or PFLP, they are going to pursue the interests of their party within the framework of their job… Who‘s going to check up on them to see that they don‘t? UNRWA? They are UNRWA.”
The UNRWA has ensured that its schools, and the refugee camps in general, have become military training camps. The object appears to be an ultimate showdown with Israel. These are the people the US is now entrusting humanitarian aid money to:
In the summer of 2000, it was public knowledge that UNRWA was allowing 25,000 Palestinian Arab youngsters to use their schools as military training camps; children, ages 8 to 16, were trained in the art of preparing Molotov cocktails, roadside bombs and throwing stones during military confrontations with IDF troops.
…each UNRWA camp hosts a local steering committee in charge of distributing the funds received as charitable donations from relief organizations and donor countries around the world. It is that local steering committee which decides how to spend the money at its disposal–whether to provide food or weapons (emphasis mine). The UNRWA website states, “The camp committees in each camp are considered official bodies.” This means it was an official UNRWA body that sanctioned purchase of weapons with charitable donations.
The most extreme example of the transformation of a UNRWA refugee camp into a terrorist installation is Jenin, which was exposed as such during the IDF incursion in 2002. The occupants of Jenin had taken advantage of the Israeli withdrawal from their city eight years before not to turn Jenin into a functioning and healthy city, but to turn it into what Fatah itself described as the “suicide bombers’ capital” (A’simat Al-Istashidin, [in Arabic], Fatah Jenin branch report to Marwan Barghouti, September 25, 2001). As is well known, the response of the UN and UNRWA to the revelation of the extent of the Palestinian terrorist infrastructure in Jenin was to ignore it completely and offer blind support to revolting Palestinian lies about Israeli conduct during the operation. Though the Palestinian version of the operation has been thoroughly discredited, no retractions have ever been offered by anyone at the UN or UNRWA to any of the falsehoods that they so eagerly promoted. More importantly, no effort whatsoever has been made to flush out or even to acknowledge the terrorist character of the UNRWA refugee camp in Jenin.
Any one of the Israeli victims of the 28 (yes, 28) terrorist attacks committed by residents of Jenin might have been able to offer some enlightenment on that point, but unfortunately they were not available for consultation. UNRWA bears considerable responsibility for their deaths, and for the general degeneration of the situation between the two peoples over the past half century. Today’s mess is largely of UNRWA’s making. It’s hard to imagine anything more foolish than relying on it to keep aid money out of terrorists’ hands.
ADDENDUM: Since posting this item I found an article by Honest Reporting that lists a few instances of UNRWA/terrorist activity:
? May 2004: Armed Palestinians are filmed using UNRWA ambulances to transport terrorists and, possibly, remains of fallen Israeli soldiers in Gaza.
? Sept. 2003: After the Israeli military court convicts three UNRWA employees for terrorist activities (such as throwing firebombs at a public bus), Israel detains at least 16 other UNRWA staff members for various security-related matters.
? Dec. 2002: A Shin Bet report indicates that numerous UNRWA facilities in the West Bank and Gaza had been used by Palestinian terrorists as meeting grounds and for weapons storage.
? Sept. 2002: Nahd Attala, a senior official of UNRWA in Gaza, reveals that in June-July 2002, he used his UNRWA car for the transportation of armed members of Fatah who were on their way to carry out a missile attack against Jewish settlements. In addition, Nahd admits he used an UNRWA car to transport a 12 kg explosive charge for his brother-in-law, a Fatah member.
? August 2002: Nidal Nazzal, a Hamas member and ambulance driver employed by UNRWA, confesses to transporting weapons and explosives in an UNRWA ambulance, and that he had taken advantage of the freedom of movement he enjoyed to transmit messages among Hamas members in various Palestinian towns.
? February 2002: Alaa Muhammad Ali Hassan, a Tanzim member, confesses during interrogation that he had carried out a sniper shooting from the school run by UNRWA in the al-Ayn refugee camp near Nablus. He also told his interrogators that bombs intended for terrorist attacks were being manufactured inside the UNRWA school’s facilities (emphases mine).