OpinionIsrael-Palestinian Conflict

UNRWA’s violent summer camps

A generation of Palestinian children were trained for war, leading directly to Oct. 7.

“Summer-camp activities” for youth that present terrorists as role models at the Palestinian Authority Security Forces’ Al-Istiqlal University. Credit: PMW.
“Summer-camp activities” for youth that present terrorists as role models at the Palestinian Authority Security Forces’ Al-Istiqlal University. Credit: PMW.
David Bedein
David Bedein
David Bedein is director of the Nahum Bedein Center for Near East Policy Research.

For the past 15 years, as a community organizer turned investigative reporter, I have held the unique position of running the sole agency that documents the conduct of summer camps run by the U.N.’s agency for Palestinian refugees UNRWA. Assisted by three Arab journalists and three Jewish journalists with a deep understanding of Arab culture, my task has been to share the unsettling realities we witnessed since I first began to cover UNRWA in 1987.

Each summer, the UNRWA camps engage in simulations of violence deemed necessary to claiming and “returning to Palestine.” These so-called “games” revolve around preparing for an anticipated war to “liberate Palestine.”

Shockingly, children at UNRWA summer camps practice activities such as kidnapping soldiers, burning Israel Defense Forces vehicles and handling weapons.

Having prepared a compilation of UNRWA summer camp footage, we plan to present it to the Knesset and the embassies of countries that donate to the $1.6 billion UNRWA budget.

It is disturbing to witness the “entertainment” these children engaged in at UNRWA summer camps. These “games” now seem all too real given the events of Oct. 7, when thousands of incited Arab youngsters invaded the Gaza periphery.

While most journalists find joy in their achievements, my scoop gives me little pleasure. The evidence indicates that UNRWA helped direct the current war in collaboration with Hamas. The footage captured at UNRWA summer camps will serve as a valuable resource for generations of investigators examining the events of Oct. 7 that caught the world by surprise.

The perplexing question is: How is it possible that no one seemed to know that UNRWA used its summer camps to train an army of young people for guerrilla warfare aimed at total insurrection?

On Aug. 1, 2000, UNRWA formally adopted the “right of return” curriculum of the Palestinian Authority. Now, it has transformed this curriculum into a “right of return” by force of arms, as witnessed on Oct. 7. Astonishingly, not a single nation calls for the removal of such a lethal curriculum.

On July 1, UNRWA will reopen these same violent summer camps for descendants of Arab refugees who live in UNRWA camps in Judea, Samaria, Gaza and Jerusalem.

Throughout these seven months of war, the IDF has discovered arsenals of weapons in UNRWA schools and medical facilities. Now, before the UNRWA summer camps commence, is the time to document how UNRWA facilities were transformed into arsenals. Now is the time to review the UNRWA curriculum once again, demand the removal of the murder murals at UNRWA schools and share the evidence of weapons at these schools before it is again too late.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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