A UN Watch report released this week further bolsters the assertions of UNRWA’s critics that the Palestinian aid agency, rife with terrorism supporters, is beyond repair.
UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, has come under fire after The New York Times broke the story on Sunday that 12 staff members took part in the Oct. 7 massacre in which Hamas terrorists rampaged through Israel’s south, murdering some 1,200 persons, mostly civilians.
At least 15 countries, including the U.S., have suspended funding to the organization following the report. The U.S. is UNRWA’s largest donor, giving the group $422 million in 2023.
U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres has attempted to paint a picture of a few bad apples, saying on Sunday that nine of the 12 staff members had been terminated, one was dead and the identities of the other two were being clarified.
However, The Wall Street Journal subsequently reported that one in 10 UNRWA employees is either an active member or has ties to Hamas or Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
“Just a few bad apples?” tweeted UN Watch Executive Director Hillel Neuer on Jan. 28. “There are 249,000 messages, replete with celebrations of Hamas terrorism,” referring to his group’s new report.
The report, “UNRWA’s Terrorgram,” details how UNRWA teachers “cheered and celebrated” the Oct. 7 massacre in a 3,000-member UNRWA staff Telegram group.
Telegram is a social media platform similar to WhatsApp where members can chat and share documents and files.
This report profiled 30 members of the Telegram group who endorsed the Hamas massacre or otherwise supported the group’s terrorism.
Israa Abdul Kareem Mezher, an Arabic language teacher at an UNRWA elementary school, prayed for the terrorists’ success on the morning of Oct. 7. “May God keep their feet steady and guide their aim”; “pray for the Mujahidin [jihadists],” he said.
At 7:38 a.m. on Oct. 7, as news spread of the attack, Mezher proclaimed, “God is the greatest. God is the greatest.”
On Oct. 8, Waseem Medhat Abo El Ula, an English teacher, called
to “execute the first settler on live broadcast.” On Nov. 20, he shared a photo of a suicide vest warning “Jews” that the vest “is waiting to go into battle officially and exclusively.” He affirmed his endorsement of Hamas on Dec. 25.
A math teacher, Shatha Husam Al Nawajha, prayed for the well-being and success of the Hamas terrorists. “May God protect them and guide their aim,” she said at 7:59 a.m. on Oct. 7, hoping for their “safe” return “and with booty.” At 8 a.m., she praised the terrorists for taking “their destiny into their own hands.”
The UNRWA Telegram group was created by Hani Jouda, who advocates for the rights of UNRWA staff and is listed as the owner among the group admins. “Jouda rejects Israel’s right to exist and promotes antisemitism,” UN Watch said, noting a June 18, 2021, post in which he denied any Jewish connection to the Land of Israel.
The fact that UNRWA is riddled with supporters of terrorism is no revelation. It has been described as the “educational arm” of Hamas, filling young minds with incendiary Jew-hatred and thereby ensuring that the next generation furnishes a plentitude of terrorists.
UN Watch is one of a handful of organizations that have exposed UNRWA’s terror ties over the years, noting in its report that since 2015, it has revealed more than 150 UNRWA staff Facebook pages containing antisemitism and incitement terrorism, in “blatant violation” of U.N. neutrality.
“UNRWA’s typical response to our research has been to disparage our human rights organization and downplay the problem as reflecting just a few bad apples,” the report notes.
UN Watch notes that Palestinians, alone among all peoples, have a dedicated U.N. agency to assist their refugees.
But UNRWA doesn’t resettle Palestinian refugees. Instead, it perpetuates their refugee status, passing it down to the next generation as an inheritance, even if they acquire citizenship in other countries. The rolls of Palestinian “refugees” have thus increased from the UNRWA-estimated 726,000 as a result of Israel’s 1948-49 War of Independence to 5.9 million (and growing) today.
Israel would like to see UNRWA gone. Its foreign ministry recently put together a classified report calling for the U.N. agency’s removal from Gaza.
The U.N., however, is trying to save UNRWA. Guterres appealed to governments that suspended funding to at least guarantee a continuous cash flow to UNRWA until war-related humanitarian needs subside. He was set to meet with major donors on Tuesday.