Cheryl Levi

UNWRA: The Worst-Kept Secret

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Recently, it has been revealed that members of UNWRA, the UN relief organization that has been working with the Palestinians for the past 75 years, participated in the October 7th attack. In horror, countries around the world have stopped pouring money into the organization. This is a showstopper for UNWRA who received $1.17 billion in funding from the UK, Italy, Canada, Australia, and Finland in 2022. The United States gave UNWRA  $340 million in that same year as well. UNWRA is in trouble.

The surprising thing about this story to most Israelis is not that UNWRA workers participated in the attacks of October 7th. To be honest, as an Israeli, I would have been surprised if that was not the case. The shocking thing to Israelis is that it took this long for the governments of Europe and the US to acknowledge the fact that UNWRA is closely tied to Hamas. This has been a fact that organizations like the UN Watch has been alerting them to for years. In fact, Donald Trump ceased all funding to UNWRA in 2018. It was Biden who re-started American funding to the organization in 2021.

The fact that UNWRA has ties to Hamas is one of the worst-kept secrets in the region. In an interview on CBN, investigative journalist for the Near-East Policy, David Bedein, claims that he was not in the least bit surprised by October 7th. He has videos from the UNWRA camps of young people training to kill Jews in cold blood. These training camps have existed for years, but in the weeks before October 7th, the exercises were upgraded. These videos were presented to Israeli intelligence.

He explains that UNWRA employs Hamas workers to run their camps.  He says that the UNWRA schools, summer camps, and youth clubs are run by Hamas as well.  “UNWRA and Hamas are one and the same,”  he states unequivocally.  And everyone knows this. The United States was aware of this when, at the urging of Senator James Rische of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, they created the UNWRA-US Accord, which ensured that UNWRA would not receive US tax money until they changed their school curriculum.  And it worked…to an extent. UNWRA refused to change its curriculum, so for two years, US funding did not go through. It might be still working if the US hadn’t decided to abandon this accord and started funding UNWRA again.

It’s not that difficult to find evidence of the connection between UNWRA and Hamas.  It only takes a glance at YouTube. The AIJAC put out a video in the summer of 2023 of the Askar refugee camp where they interviewed children and the director of a summer camp who is  employed by UNWRA. Askar is one of the 19 refugee camps in Judea and Samaria that is run by UNWRA. It has a $1.6 billion dollar budget. 58% of that budget goes towards its school system which emphasizes the “right of return” as the charter of its curriculum.  The “right of return” is the unfounded belief that one day the Palestinian people will go back to the homes and vineyards that they left in 1948. This belief has been reinforced for generations by the UNWRA schools and youth camps to the point where Palestinian children hold it as their highest ideal and are ready to kill and die for it. When they chant “from the river to the sea,” they are referring to their “right of return.”

Young Palestinian boy: “We were expelled from Jaffa. Today we are talking about our right of return. And our right to return to Jaffa, Haifa, Lod, and Ramla.  We will be back very soon!  Whatever happens, there will be no peace!”

Interviewer (to a different boy):  “What do they teach you about the  right of return?”

Young Palestinian boy: “We must sacrifice ourselves and become martyrs…We will get our rights.  With Allah’s help, they (the Jews) will all die. Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine.  It will remain ours forever. And the settlers will all be executed.”

The interviewer moves on to interview the director of a popular summer camp in Askar.  She explains how her camp is structured.

“We divide the children into 4 groups. Each group is named after a shahid (martyr) from the camp in order to cherish the legacy of the shahid.”

She explains that every child is ready to be a martyr in order to carry out their “right of return”.

Askar is the smallest camp in Judea and Samaria, but it has the largest number of shahids and convicts in Israeli prisons who are serving terms for murder. In Askar, the Shahids are considered heroes.  After the murder of Lucy Dee and her two daughters, candies were handed out in celebration.

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The murderer, Hassan Katnani’s funeral turned into a celebratory parade.

An interview with a small child from Askar:

Interviewer: Who is the hero of the camp?

Child: Hassan Katnani

Interviewer: Why?

Child: …First he defended his homeland and his honor and restored our self-respect after being expelled from our land.

He did all of this by murdering these three women.

The children of Askar wear necklaces with photos of shahids, and have favorites, just like we used to collect baseball cards and hang up posters of our favorite ball players. The heroes of the camp are the murderers of Jews.  This is what they teach in UNWRA schools and summer camps.

So why would anyone in Israel be surprised that UNWRA employees took part in the October 7th attacks? The UN Watch website contains an article about a telegram group of 3,000 UNWRA teachers replete with posts celebrating the October 7th attacks.  Hillel Neuer, the executive director of the UN Watch, remarks  “This is the motherlode of UNRWA teachers’ incitement to Jihadi terrorism.”  It’s also a smoking gun.

Group of 3,000 UNRWA teachers celebrates Hamas massacre and rape

There is another article on the site that speaks about UNWRA’s spread of misinformation and pro-Hamas literature.  The writer presents examples of some of the lies UNWRA has spread in their Tweets.

UNRWA Misinformation on Hamas-Israel War

Why then are all these governments so shocked?  They should have pulled their taxpayer’s money out of UNWRA long ago.  Perhaps if they had, they could have prevented October 7th.  There is a lot of blame to go around.  There are also a lot of lies.  But it’s clear that UNWRA has been one of the worst-kept secrets of this whole horrific tale of terror.

About the Author
Cheryl Levi is a writer and a high school English teacher who lives with her family in Bet Shemesh, Israel. She has a master's degree in medieval Jewish philosophy and has written numerous articles about faith crisis in Judaism. Her book, Reasonable Doubts, was published in 2010.
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