Biden administration defends UN agency for Palestinians despite ties to Hamas

White House spokesman says UNRWA ‘does important work,’ defending the agency amid reports linking some members to Hamas.

By World Israel News Staff

The Biden administration defended the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees Thursday, amid criticism of Hamas’ use of the agency’s facilities and ties between the terror group and some of the agency’s employees.

Speaking with reporters Thursday, White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said that the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) “does important work,” downplaying reports of UNRWA employees working with Hamas.

“In fact,” Kirby continued, “they’re doing a lot of heavy lifting right now in terms of trying to get food, water, medicine to the people of Gaza, all up and down the Strip. They’re doing a lot of work, and they’re doing it in harm’s way — very much so in harm’s way.”

When asked whether the U.S. should reconsider its funding for UNRWA – close to $400 million per year – Kirby said the agency could not be blamed for Hamas’ use of its facilities.

“You can’t hold them accountable for the depredations of Hamas and the way Hamas uses civilian infrastructure, including hospitals, for command and control, for storage of weapons, for the holding of hostages.”

“They do good work in Gaza, and they are important to helping get the humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza. And we’re grateful for that work that they’re doing, very much in harm’s way.”

“I will let them speak to whatever concerns they have over Hamas’s activities and the degree to which that they feel obligated to speak out or not.”

The agency, which manages refugee camps in Judea, Samaria, Gaza, and abroad, has faced criticism for years, amid accusations that it not only perpetuates Palestinians’ refugee status and irredentism, but also funds explicitly anti-Israel activities and content.

In 2018, the Trump administration suspended U.S. funding for UNRWA.

Three years later, however, the Biden administration resumed payments to the agency, which have totalled over $1 billion since.

There have also been reports of direct cooperation between UNRWA employees and Hamas.

In late November, a freed hostage told Channel 13 that he was held captive by an UNRWA teacher.

On December 1st, UNRWA released a statement calling the report into question.

Read  The Biden regime's latest move to stab Israel in the back

“UNRWA requests that the journalist provides an immediate clarification of the claims, and that whoever may be able to assist us in determining the facts comes forward.

In a separate incident, a November report by the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education revealed that an UNRWA school in Shechem (Nablus) in Samaria had praised Hamas and lauded the terror group’s October 7th invasion of Israel and massacre of Israelis.

Video released by the school showed students at an assembly, saying “amen” to a speech by a student calling for the victory of Hamas’ “Jihad warriors.”

The November report also revealed that at least 14 teachers working at UNRWA schools in the Gaza Strip publicly endorsed Hamas and the terror group’s massacres of Israelis, and exposed ties between the UNRWA-run schools and known Hamas terrorists.