UN Arab refugee agency under scrutiny for terror links

The United Nations refugee agency is under scrutiny by the United States Congress and the Knesset for links to terrorism.

By David Bedein

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency, or UNRWA, allocates $1.2 billion from 68 donor nations to 59 “temporary” Arab refugee camps that were established in the wake of the Arab-Israel war in 1948.

At that time, half a million Arabs fled the nascent State of Israel.

The UNRWA  refugee population now encompasses five million descendants of Arab refugees from the 1948 war. UNRWA schools indoctrinate their to return to villages their grandparents left in 1948, even though these villages have dissappeared.

Over the last few years, our agency has filmed and documented that Hamas conducts military training for UNRWA children in it weapons training camps.

Kids are handed machine guns and schooled for war, while  top Hamas officials on site encourage jihad, and lecture on the importance of taking back their villages  – by force of arms.

Once again this summer, Hamas runs military programs with live weapons  for tens of thousands who attend UNRWA schools during the school year.

Children Instructed on Use of Lethal Weapons

Al-Kutla al-Islamiya, a division of Hamas, which runs UNRWA military classes, instructs  UNRWA children how to fight, shoot lethal weapons, and use hand grenades in preparation for their war for the “right of return.”

After exposure to al-Kutla, UNRWA elementary and middle schoolers join a week-long war games program, held in a military encampment, where they study “jihad, determination, to trust Allah and other Islamic values.”

Without batting an eye-lash, a bonafide  UN agency violates the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child, which states that “children should not be forced or recruited to take part in a war or join the armed forces.”

One might think that UNRWA would object to Hamas recruiting  students to become terrorists. The opposite is the case. On the record, the Hamas Minister of Religion told us in a filmed interview that “Hamas’ relationship with UNRWA is good, very good!” In addition, Hamas has a long history of promoting UNRWA educators and admistrators to top positions. Its founder, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, was a teacher in the UNRWA school system for 17 years. And its unions have been controlled by Hamas for decades. Last spring, UNRWA’s former union head Suhail al-Hindi was named to the Hamas cabinet, along with UNRWA’s infrastructure chief Muhammad al-Jamassi.

US Leading Donor but Little American Oversight

While the US is the leading Western donor to UNRWA, doling out $400 million each year to this Palestinian refugee agency, there has been little American oversight of UNRWA.

On paper, binding legislation was passed by the US Congress back in 2003 requires UNRWA to vet personnel to see if there are terrorists on the payroll.

Yet the US  has never asked  UNRWA to vet its personnel.

US Congressional Research Service reports that the US has never checked to see if its humanitarian funds wind up in the coffers of Hamas, which had controlled the UNRWA administrators and teachers unions in Gaza since 1999.

Now the US Congress has taken off the gloves, directing the General Accounting Office, the GAO, to determine if  UNRWA is fomenting terrorism.

The question that the GAO has been asked: Is UNRWA  in violation of  US penal code § 2339B  – providing material support a designated FTO, a “foreign terrorist organization”?

Senator James Risch (R-Idaho), chairman of the US Senate Subcommittee on Near Eastern and South and Central Asian Affairs, told  this reporter that his office made the official request of the GAO, the US General Accounting office, to launch an unprecedented  investigation of the alleged terror involvement of UNRWA.

Almost 100% of Gaza UNRWA Workers Active in Hamas

In that context, a newly formed Knesset Lobby for UNRWA Policy Reform, chaired by MK Sharren Haskel  from the Likud,  convened its first session  at the Knesset on July 19.

That Knesset lobby will reconvene in late October, after the US GAO report on UNRWA terror involvement is released.

Knesset Member Avi Dichter, who chairs the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Security Committee, points a harsh finger at UNRWA, warning that “almost 100 percent” of UNRWA workers in Gaza are active in the Hamas terrorist organization.”

David Bedein, who has directed Israel Resource News Agency since 1987, administers the Center for Near East Policy Research. You can contact David through his site, www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com.