ON Friday, The Epoch Times published a succinct examination of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), the only UN subsidiary dedicated solely to supporting Palestinians.
For years, I have been warning about UNRWA’s complicity in the Islamist war against Israel, and the naive and uncritical reporting of this UN agency. Established in 1949, UNRWA has yet to fulfil its mission to rehabilitate Palestinian refugees despite being financed with billions, mainly from the West. Britain is one of its top 20 funders, giving over £21million last year.
The article, by Dan M. Berger, shows how UNRWA’s perpetuation of an endless refugee status for Palestinians, and its suspected collusion with Hamas, are a disaster for the Jewish state. It details in full the uncharitable truth about this activist outfit.
Berger initially sets out claims from both UNRWA’s defenders and opponents:
‘UNRWA’s defenders say it’s just doing the mission assigned by the U.N. almost three-quarters of a century ago. Opponents say UNRWA is way too close to Hama.s’
He notes that: ‘Others see it as an enabler of the crisis, an agency meant to perpetuate a “refugee” status no longer applicable to most Palestinians and doing it to obstruct any peace process indefinitely.’
A quote from an Israeli academic in the article aptly sums up UNRWA’s motivation:
‘They don’t want to rehabilitate Palestinian refugees. They want to keep them in camps and perpetuate their refugee status. It is the central pillar of the Palestinian ethos. This is the excuse for their victimhood. This is why they can get money from the international community, and why they don’t have to be responsible.’
Historical accounts on the Palestinian crisis are often chronically imbalanced. Berger corrects this by observing that in 1948:
‘Around 700,000 Arab residents fled, some out of fear, and others because they were encouraged to by Arab leaders, who assured them the war would be over in a few weeks.’
He mentions the oft-disregarded plight of almost one million Mizrahi Jews, forced to flee from MENA countries around the same time. The UN never created an agency for these refugees.
Berger notes that so-called Gazan ‘refugee camps’ consist of permanent buildings, including expensive villas, a telling point rarely mentioned in the media. He rightly questions UNRWA’s definition of a Palestinian refugee:
‘Refugees are typically stateless people, Mr Michael said. But Palestinians now hold various travel documents up to and including passports.’
‘Descendants of other refugee populations usually aren’t classified as refugees.’
The most crucial part of Berger’s article is his detailed analysis of UNRWA’s worrying relationship with Hamas and the Palestinian Authority. UNRWA is often accused of indoctrinating Palestinian schoolchildren in anti-Semitism and militarism at hundreds of its schools in Gaza and the West Bank, with devastating consequences for Israel:
‘That 75 per cent of the entire Palestinian population supports the massacre of October 7 is one of the outcomes of 30 years of poisoning the hearts and minds of these people. With all the poisoning process carried out by the Palestinian Authority, Hamas, and UNRWA.’
There is evidence that Hamas uses UNWRA infrastructure in Gaza, including schools and hospitals, as operative bases:
‘Israeli soldiers have found 100 rockets hidden in UNRWA boxes inside a home in northern Gaza.’
Some of the 33,000 UNRWA employees in Gaza are alleged to have imprisoned Israeli hostages taken by Hamas on October 7.
Even UNWRA supporters admit it ‘may not have much choice but to go along with the host government in Gaza’.
Hamas is also long suspected of siphoning off foreign aid funds, somewhat accounting for how its leaders manage to live a billionaire lifestyle in Qatar while most of their people languish in Gaza.
Berger makes the important point that because foreign aid and UNRWA fund public services in Gaza, Hamas is then free to use tax revenue from Gazans to finance its war against Israel:
‘Other international assistance may make it to approved recipients like schools and hospitals. But that, in turn, enables Hamas, freed of paying for those services, to spend more tax revenue on arms, along with an estimated $100 million a year from Iran.’
He concludes that this UNRWA debacle is set to continue indefinitely:
‘Arab countries have traditionally blocked any revisiting of UNRWA’s mission at the United Nations’
Worth reading in full here.