Israeli terror victims sue UNRWA for leading ‘billion-dollar money laundering operation that funded Hamas’

UNRWA demanded aid payments in US dollars to charge Gazan residents exorbitant fees to change currencies, resulting in Hamas stealing billions of dollars.

By Adam Kredo, The Washington Free Beacon

Israeli victims of Hamas’s Oct. 7 terror attack are suing the United Nations’ leading aid organization in the Gaza Strip, alleging that the organization “led a billion-dollar money laundering operation that funded Hamas” and enabled the terror group to carry out last year’s unprecedented strike that killed more than 1,200.

The lawsuit was filed on Monday in New York federal court by MM~LAW on behalf of more than 100 Israeli victims of the Oct. 7 attack.

It alleges that the U.N. Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), the internationally funded aid delivery group in Gaza, spent years laundering billions in donor cash to Hamas, “greatly reducing humanitarian aid provided to Gaza residents and playing a key role in the October 7 attack,” according to a summary of the lawsuit provided to the Washington Free Beacon.

The lawsuit comes just months after Israel provided evidence that at least a dozen of UNRWA’s employees participated in Hamas’s terror massacre and that nearly 200 more double as “hardened” terrorists for the Iran-backed group.

UNRWA employees were also found to be hiding Israeli hostages in their home, and the Israeli military has shown proof that many of the militants killed on the battlefield were UNRWA employees.

Read  WATCH: IDF eliminates Hamas terrorists with precision airstrikes

The allegations forced the United States and other Western donors to cut millions in funding to the aid group.

The United States is UNRWA’s largest donor and has contributed upward of half a billion dollars since 2022, when President Joe Biden entered office and restarted taxpayer funding that the Trump administration had frozen over concerns about UNRWA’s ties to Hamas and promotion of anti-Semitic educational materials.

The lawsuit claims that “UNRWA facilitated construction of Hamas command and control centers, attack tunnels and underground bunkers under UNRWA headquarters, UNRWA schools, medical clinics, and offices.”

Israel has discovered multiple Hamas command bases beneath the Gaza Strip’s hospitals, civilian homes, schools, and other civilian centers.

UNRWA, the lawsuit alleges, “permitted constructing weapons storage and deployment centers in its headquarters, schools, medical clinics, offices, warehouses and other facilities.”

The aid group also “permitted installation of rocket launching platforms and terrorist firing positions within and/or adjacent to UNRWA schools, medical clinics and offices, in violation of international humanitarian law.”

In its wars with Hamas in recent years, including the ongoing campaign, Israel has repeatedly provided evidence that Hamas uses UNRWA facilities to store munitions, rockets, and other war instruments.

The aid group has vowed to investigate these incidents and claims they are rare instances in which Hamas co-opted U.N. facilities against the agency’s will.

Read  Republicans demand Biden stop Hamas from stealing $400 million in humanitarian aid

But UNRWA, the lawsuit charges, “continues to provide material assistance to Hamas despite public concern and objections from within the UN system.”

The case will also present evidence that “UNRWA insisted” on making aid payments in U.S. dollars, rather than local currency that could actually be used by Gaza residents.

“This was a unique practice in Gaza, not consistent with aid to the West Bank, Jordan, or other UN refugee programs,” according to information provided by the lawyers.

“Along with the cost and risk of trucking $20 million-a-month in cash into Gaza, this scheme required aid recipients to pay Hamas moneychangers 10-20% fees to convert their dollars into [Israeli] shekels.”

This alleged “payments scheme” reduced the value of aid to Gaza residents, while bolstering Hamas’s monthly revenues, cash that likely went to arms dealers who only accept American cash as payment.

“The findings in this lawsuit demonstrate that UNRWA was aware of and actively participated in the diversion of funds earmarked to support the people of Gaza into channels that ensured those funds were used for terrorism and in violation of international law,” Bijan Amini, one of the lead lawyers in the case, said in a statement.

“UNRWA’s insistence that over a billion dollars in Gaza aid be distributed in US cash that locals could not spend without going through Hamas moneychangers is one of the most damning pieces of new evidence presented in this case.”

Read  Israel rejects UN official’s explanation for leaving Hamas’s use of human shields out of report

Gadi and Reuma Kadem, an Israeli couple whose children and grandchildren were killed on Oct. 7, said they joined the case out of a need to hold Hamas’s international enablers accountable.

“All that is left is to fight to hold those responsible for strengthening Hamas to account,” the pair said in a statement.

“UNRWA strengthened Hamas and transferred funds and financed the murders, acting as a full partner in the growth of Hamas terrorists. UNRWA and its directors are fully complicit in the murder of my children and family.”

In addition to the lawsuit, lawmakers and outside advocacy groups have petitioned the IRS to pull UNRWA’s tax-exempt status in the United States, saying these fundraising activities constitute material support to a terror group.