Tuesday, February 21, 2006


The Hamas/ UNRWA Connection

The Hamas/ UNRWA Connection
By: David Bedein

Israel Resource News Agency operates through private contributions offered to IRNA's US tax deductible affiliate, Center for Near East Policy Research, POB 1783, Brookline, Mass 02446-0014

At a time when the governments of Israel and the US have made a policy decision to cut funds for to pay health, education and social service salaries to the Hamas dominated Palestinian Authority, it has been suggested that Israel and the US simply allocate the funds through UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency that administers 59 refugee camps for Palestinian Arab refugees from 1948 and for their descendent.

All told. UNRWA services about three million Palestinian Arabs, one third of whom actually live in the camps, with the rest of the UNRWA clientele living contiguous to the camps. However, the Hamas connection to UNRWA is pervasive and deep.

Writing about UNRWA during a week that the Israel Defence Forces (The IDF) is engaged in house to house search operations of wanted Hamas terrorists in the UNRWA camp in Balata, near Nablus, the use and the infiltration into UNRWA facilities and UNRWA operations by Hamas and by Hamas-affiliated people who are in the employ of UNRWA is nothing new.

At the memorial ceremony for Sheikh Yassin which as held at the UNRWA boys’ school in that same Balata refugee camp on April 3, 2004, veiled operatives held mock Kassam rockets; the families of “martyrs” were given gifts and certificates of gratitude.

In an earlier incident Hamas convened a conference in a school in the Jabalya refugee camp, in which the school’s administration, teachers and hundreds of students participated was reported on the website of the Israeli prime minister. Saheil Alhinadi, representing the UNRWA Teachers Association, praised UNRWA pupils s who carried out suicide attacks against Israel . That Alhinadi was speaking for the teachers should not be surprising, since Hamas-affiliated officials dominate in the teachers’ union of UNRWA in Gaza, and control its executive committee.

This is particularly worrisome because of the influence on young refugees studying in UNRWA schools. Hamas has influenced the UNRWA schools in yet another way, as well: The Islamic Bloc, which works within the Hamas, , and refers to itself as a “Jihad” organization,. dedicated to the “Islamization” of the Palestinian cause and the necessity of liberating all of the land of Palestine, and it has been charged by Hamas with furthering the goal of Hamas within the schools.

IDF Colonel (ret.) Yoni Fighel, a former IDF intelligence officer, observed that “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.”

Meanwhile, Israel’s former UN Ambassador, Dr. Dore Gold, visited the UNRWA camp in Jenin in April 2002 and himself witnessed the presence of shahid (martyr) posters on the walls in the homes of UNRWA workers. “It was clear,” he says, “that UNRWA workers were doubling as Hamas agents.” It should be noted that, for political reasons, adequate vetting of prospective employees in Judea and Samaria is not done by UNRWA, while such vetting of prospective employees for UNRWA does take place in the UNRWA camps in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan.

At UNRWA’s international conference that was held in Geneva in June, 2004, I asked Peter Hansen, then the UN Commissioner General for UNRWA, how he could account for the fact that Hamas members were on the payroll of UNRWA. Hansen then admitted that “We do not check the religious affiliation of our staff members”.

A week later, Hansen was interviewed by CBC radio and said that he saw no problem with having Hamas members on his staff. Employee involvement with Hamas should not come as any surprise, since the employees of UNRWA are themselves Palestinian Arab refugees, and the evidence that the refugee population is supportive of and affiliated with Hamas is quite considerable: Indeed, UNRWA has never denied beneficiaries aid or relief because of Hamas (or other terrorist) associations. This is because UNRWA has a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on the matter. Inevitably, then, funds given to UNRWA recipients ends up paying the salaries of Hamas officials.

This week, The Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs informed UNRWA of its great displeasure with the fact that Hamas officials remain on the payroll of UNRWA. In other words, there is no way to support UNRWA without at some level providing aid and assistance to Hamas at the same time. -----

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