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Does UNRWA help Hamas?

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UNRWA building in Gaza. Credit: David Ziplowitz’s FB page.

UNRWA was established in 1949 to provide aid to Palestinian refugees. However, over the years, its role has come under scrutiny due to allegations of aiding Hamas, an internationally recognized terrorist organization. This concern was further fueled by instances like UNRWA staff praising Hamas’ October 7 massacres and the captivity of Israeli hostages by an UNRWA teacher​​​​. In this article we will delve deeper into understanding why these accusations against UNRWA arose, what is the essence of the relationship between this organization and Hamas and what the attacks of October 7 proved about the organization’s bonding with Hamas. 

What is UNRWA?

UNRWA supply  Credit: Capital FM Kenya’s FB page

UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Arab Refugees in the Middle East, was established in December 1949 by the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 302. Its creation was a response to the crisis following the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict, which resulted in a large number of Arab refugees. Initially, UNRWA was intended to provide direct relief and work programs for these refugees. Over the years, UNRWA’s mandate has been repeatedly renewed, and its operations have expanded to include education, healthcare, and social services.

UNRWA’s approach to the Palestinian refugee status is unique compared to other refugee organizations. Unlike the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which focuses on resolving refugee situations, UNRWA perpetuates the status of Palestinian refugees across generations. This policy involves granting refugee status to all descendants of the original refugees from the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. As a result, the number of Palestinian refugees under UNRWA’s care has expanded from 750,000 in 1950 to an estimated 5.8 million today. This expansive definition has been a critical factor in the ongoing increase in the number of Palestinian refugees.

UNRWA’s Support for Hamas

UNRWA cement bag found in Hamas tunnels. Credit: Aliya Return Center FB page.

Recent news demonstrates UNRWA’s operations in Gaza provide direct support for Hamas. This includes employing Gazans who are active Hamas members, using UNRWA installations for terrorist activities, and transporting terrorists and weapons in UNRWA ambulances​​.

Are UNRWA and Hamas the Same?

While they are not the same organization, reports indicate deep connections between the two. Many UNRWA employees, including teachers, have expressed support for Hamas and its violent actions against Israel​​​​​​​​. Moreover, a significant number of Hamas terrorists are graduates of the UNRWA education system​​.

UNRWA’s Response to Recent Events

UNRWA’s response to the events surrounding the October 7, 2023 attacks has been a subject of considerable concern. Several UNRWA staff members, including teachers and educational personnel, were found praising the Hamas-perpetrated October 7 massacres on social media and celebrating the attacks resulted in significant civilian casualties and included brutal atrocities​​​​​​​​​​​​​​, on Israeli cities and kibbutzim. Additionally, it was reported that an UNRWA teacher in Gaza was involved in holding an Israeli hostage, further implicating the information regarding UNRWA staff involvement in activities associated with Hamas​​​​. Moreover, many of the terrorists involved in the October events were graduates of UNRWA schools, highlighting a troubling connection between the education provided by UNRWA and the radicalization of its students​​. These incidents have raised serious questions about the extent to which UNRWA can be considered a neutral and legitimate aid organization.

Conclusion: The Need for a New Aid Organization

Given UNRWA’s response to recent events and its controversial  relationship with Hamas, there is a growing call for the establishment of a new, internationally managed aid organization. This new entity would ideally be more effective and neutral, not influenced by any terrorist group or political agenda, and more in line with the original humanitarian mission intended for such agencies​​​​​​.

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