Hamas threatens UNRWA over cutback in services

Hamas issued a threat of violence against the UN relief agency for Palestinian refugees over its decision to cut back on services in Gaza. 

By: Aryeh Savir, World Israel News
Palestinian policemen loyal to Hamas

Palestinian policemen loyal to Hamas. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

Hamas officials threatened UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East) with “escalating events” over the agency’s budget cuts, which affect projects in the Gaza Strip.

The Division Refugee Affairs-Hamas (DRAH) charged that UNRWA was reducing the services provided to Palestinian refugees without an official UN resolution, and was doing so before “getting the Palestinian refugees back to their homes in occupied Palestine,” in accordance with UN resolution 302.  The resolution was created in 1949 with the initial mandate to provide “direct relief…to Palestinian refugees,” in order to “prevent conditions of starvation and distress… and to further conditions of peace and stability.”

In a press release on Thursday, the DRAH said that the UNRWA cuts included the halt of employment in the five areas in which UNRWA operates and stated that these cuts were “unprecedented resolutions, and exceed the powers UNRWA has been assumed by the United Nations.”

“Through such unfair decisions, UNRWA pours oil on the fire,” the DRAH charged.

The DRAH demanded that UNRWA reverse these decisions.

The Hamas sub-division also called on the UN to “continually compensate every lack in UNRWA budget” that is caused by “failure of donors to meet their pledges,” and demanded that UNRWA find other sources of finance to “overcome the crisis.”

Hamas threatened to carry out “escalating events” that will continue until their demands are met, or the so-called refugees “will not the only losers because of the UNRWA unfair resolutions,” DRAH added in the statement.

UNRWA, which is a UN agency dedicated solely to the Palestinians, has recently come under increasing fire from the Palestinians in Gaza.

In January, a large group of Palestinian protesters stormed a UN compound in the Gaza Strip after UNRWA, citing lack of funds, suspended payments to Gaza families to rebuild their homes damaged during Operation Protective Edge.

“You took the Palestinian people to a corner of slow death, and today the world is practicing collective punishment against the Palestinian people,” a protest leader told Ma’an news.

Some 200 people burned tires and threw rocks until Hamas police dispersed the rioters. The UN blamed Hamas for the attack.

In April, a bomb went off near the offices of UNRWA in Gaza City while another one exploded near police headquarters. No deaths or injuries were reported.