Pakistani teenager and Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai is the latest high-profile individual to pledge her entire $50,000 winnings from her World's Children's Prize to the the U.N. Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA, for the purpose of rebuilding Gaza schools.
Earlier this month at a donor conference in Cairo, various countries pledged $5.4 billion to rebuild Gaza, eliciting some criticism from Israeli officials who noted that Hamas has a history of using donations intended for humanitarian needs for the purpose of re-arming for the next battle with Israel. In addition, the following documentary video produced by investigative journalist David Bedein alleges a symbiotic relationship between UNRWA and Hamas.
UNRWA spokesperson Christopher Gunness called the video a "catalogue of falsehoods.” Yet during this summer’s war between Israel and Hamas, UNRWA gained notoriety for at least three U.N. schools that were found to store rockets that Hamas and Islamic Jihad were using to launch at Israeli civilians.
UNRWA has claimed that the schools were empty, but nonetheless the rockets were stored at the facilities. Once this was discovered, UNRWA at least in one case gave the rockets back to Hamas. Several Israel Defense Forces soldiers were also killed in a booby-trapped U.N. medical clinic during the war. UNRWA received relatively little criticism for the rocket-storage controversy compared to the heavy public criticism levied at Israel for attacking the same U.N. facilities that stored the terrorist rockets.
Nevertheless, Yousafzai, who was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman in 2012 and has been speaking out about girls' rights to education around the world, told the Swedish broadcaster SVT that her donation will "totally go to the rebuilding of schools for children in Gaza, so I think it will definitely help those children to continue their education, to get quality education." UNRWA thanked her for the donation and said that the money will help rebuild 65 schools that were damaged during Operation Protective Edge.
Meanwhile, the Jewish Agency for Israel is donating $13.22 million to Gaza-border communities in southern Israel that were targeted by Hamas rockets during the summer war and for years beforehand. At least with that donation, one can be reasonably assume that the money will fulfill its intended purpose.