Defunding UNRWA
Posted Tue, Feb 2, 2010

Last week, the government of Canada quietly announced it would discontinue its long-standing financial contributions to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), and redirect the monies to strengthen the judicial system of the Palestinian Authority and other food assistance programs. Harper government should be praised for its persistence in defunding entities suspected with ties to terrorist organizations or promoting anti Semitism. A thorough research I’ve made in 2009 on UNRWA revealed interesting findings that worth reprinting.
In my blogs on the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs website I have claimed that the policies of UNRWA and the Palestinian leadership perpetuate the problems of the refugees and their unfortunate conditions. I noted that despite Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in August 2005, the Palestinian Authority, and now the Hamas administration, have done nothing to rehabilitate the Palestinian refugee camps.
Not only have they done nothing to rehabilitate them, the Palestinian made it eminently clear that in order to preserve their “right to return,” no Palestinian refugee will be settled on land which was once an Israeli settlement. The claim is ridiculous, because improving the conditions under which the Palestinians live cannot possibly affect their claim to “return” or to receive compensation, as it cannot effect the claims of Palestinians who do not live in refugee camps (or of Jews who were expelled from the Arab countries). UNRWA and the Hamas administration apparently have the same interest, that is, to prevent the camps from being disbanded despite the awful conditions existing there, conditions which lead to extremism in fostering the dream of the return to “Palestine.”
Hamas is gradually taking over UNRWA
In recent years evidence has piled up indicating that Hamas and the other terrorist organizations are gradually taking over UNRWA. In the UNRWA union elections, held on June 14, 2006, Hamas won an exceptional victory, taking all 11 seats allotted to representative of UNRWA teachers, all nine seats allotted for the service sector (doctors, nurses, pharmacists and engineers), and three of the seven seats allotted to other workers.
Following the military takeover during which Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip in June 2007, reports were received, including from Palestinian human rights organizations, that armed Hamas forces had taken over UNRWA institutions in the Gaza Strip, and had even lodged operatives belonging to its military-terrorist wing, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, in some of them. A few months ago parents of pupils studying in UNRWA schools set a letter to a high-ranking UNRWA functionary complaining that dozens of their children’s teachers belonged to the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, and demanding an urgent investigation.
Palestinian terrorist taught in an UNRWA school
How convenient UNRWA is as a host for the Palestinian terrorist organizations became evident when the Israeli Air Force attacked a workshop for the manufacture of weapons in Rafah. The attack killed Awad al-Qiq who was a teacher and assistant principal in an UNRWA school in Ramallah, and at the same time head of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s weapons engineering and manufacture unit for the southern Gaza strip.
Al-Qiq was born in the Jabaliya refugee camp and lived in the Rafah refugee camp. He studied at the UNRWA school and excelled in chemistry and physics. After he got his degree from Al-Azhar University, he began teaching in UNRWA schools and was rapidly promoted. At a relatively early age he was appointed principal of the Ibn Sina elementary school, and after that chosen by UNRWA as principal of a junior high school in Rafah, a post he held until he was killed by the Israeli Air Force.
As a high school student he joined the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and was active in its student organization. After graduation he joined the PIJ’s military-terrorist wing, the Jerusalem Battalions, where his technological training was fully exploited, he was one of the senior operatives responsible for developing and manufacturing rockets for the PIJ, and prepared IEDs and other weapons for them, as well as training new generations of “engineers.” In the summer of 2006 he visited China, where he became interested in light aircraft, possibly either to buy one or manufacture one to carry out terrorist attacks against Israel. His involvement in terrorism was exposed in September 2007 when he escaped an Israel attempt to kill him. Nevertheless, he continued teaching and running an UNRWA school, and indoctrinating children and adolescents in summer camps. It is unclear why, after this terrorist activities were exposed, UNRWA did not fire him.
Thorough investigation necessary
There is no justification for UNRWA’s existence if it views as its objective the preservation and perpetuation of the miserable conditions of the refugees in the camps. Moreover, the al-Qiq affair and the Hamas takeover of UNRWA institutions and staff should set the alarm bells ringing regarding the possibility that the funds transferred to UNRWA by the donor nations (Canada and the United States among them) make their way into the terrorist organization coffers and are used to pay terrorist operative salaries. An immediate investigation is warranted, and in any case, UNRWA would do well use its millions of dollars to evacuate the refugee camps and relocate the refugees in new cities. The donor nations should make that a condition for continuing their support of UNRWA.

Jonathan Dahoh-Halevi
Fellow and senior researcher at the Jerusalem Centre for Public Affairs , head of research of the Orient Research Group Ltd., investigative journalist and an activist in the Jewish and Israeli communities.

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