This week, after the Telegraph published an investigation, http://tinyurl.com/h9mgssb which alleged that DFID, the UK charity czar, was allocating charitable funds to terrorist organizations.  Indeed, the time has come for the British media and the British government to carefully examine $99,602,875 in 2015 allocated by DFID [1] to UNRWA, an UN-affiliated agency, tasked since 1948 with the job of assisting Palestinian refugees, which is dominated by Hamas, a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO)[2].

“Peace starts here” is an ironic slogan for UNRWA to bear.

Hamas’s openly declared agenda is to violently advance the “right of return” to Arab villages that existed before 1948 provides the energy for  UNRWA employed Hamas educators openly promote “jihad and martyrdom.” , while perpetuating their permanent  refugee status . UNRWA’s teachers, many of whom are residents of the UNRWA refugee camps, are overwhelmingly affiliated with Hamas and its partner, the Islamic Bloc.  The Islamic Bloc monopolizes the UNRWA teachers’ union and ensures a climate of radicalism in all schools, with the goal of convincing students to enroll in Hamas’ military wing subsequent to graduation.  The result is a substantiated education of terror and a culture embedded with Hamas principles and a rising generation of violent radicals[3].

UNRWA faces serious allegations that they misuse the $1.2 billion given to them by the United Nations[4].  UNRWA employs over 30,000 workers, who are members of the Palestinian community,  and who live in the UNRWA e camps themselves[5].  These employees include the teachers, summer camp counselors, and directors for the local UNRWA schools, where the textbook content emanates from the Palestinian Authority.  With bout one-third of UNRWA sanctioned schools located in Gaza[6], where all authority has been left to Hamas, a designated FTO[7], UNRWA’s education system suffers.

Hamas officials are left to develop the entirety of the school curriculum, with no parameters and no oversight from the UN.  Hamas Education Minister, Osama al Mizini, works closely with the Minister of Religion, Ismail Radwan, in developing the school textbooks, curriculum, and programs.  The two work to align education of Palestinians in Gaza directly with the Hamas Charter and its principles of insurrection, faith, and education[8].

Teachers at UNRWA schools insert their beliefs into the curricula. Awad Al-Qiq worked at Rafah Prep Boys School in the Gaza Strip as a science teacher and also as the headmaster of the school.  However, Al-Qiq participated in Islamic Jihad and acted as a senior commander in the ‘engineering unit’ and built rockets, bombs, and other weapons. In 2007, Al-Qiq was exposed and the Israeli military attempted to kill him. Upon escaping, he returned to school to continue educating his students and indoctrinating them. He remained a teacher until being killed in an airstrike in 2008. When asked about Al-Qiq, UNRWA officials said that they were conducting an investigation into him but never moved to fire him[9]. Teachers at UNRWA schools play an important role in indoctrinating youth and recruiting members for Hamas, emphasizing the ideal of “Right of Return” in which refugees will return to Palestinian land whether it’s through peace or violence. Lethal methods are promoted by teachers. Schools hang up posters of suicide bombers and encourage celebrations when Israelis are killed.

This UNRWA curriculum violates Article 29 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in which “Children’s education should develop each child’s personality, talents and abilities to the fullest. It should encourage children to respect others, human rights and their own and other cultures. It should also help them learn to live peacefully, protect the environment and respect other people”[10].

Al-Kutla al-Islamiya, the division of Hamas operating all educational institutions in Gaza, thrives on developing military activities attracting UNRWA’s younger students, which strengthen the relationships of the students to Islam and they are encouraged to be active members of the Islamic movement.  The Kutla acts as a means of youth indoctrination in Gaza and paves the way for future recruitment in al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas.  The profiles of dozens of al-Qassam fatalities reveal a similar pattern–that they were leaders in the Kutla in UNRWA schools before joining al-Qassam[11].

A signature Kutla program is War Games.  The program teaches children how to fight, shoot lethal weapons, use hand grenades, and climb through various spaces all in preparation to fight against Israel.  After exposure to al-Kutla, elementary and middle schoolers are eager to join the week long war games program, held in a military camp, where they study “jihad, determination, to trust Allah and other Islamic values” in addition to military tactics and former operations.  The program is still in development according to Hamas Education Minister and is being developed to a “stage where youngsters will be skilled in weaponry.”  On the record, this is an admission to a violation of Article 38 (War and Armed Conflict) of the Declaration of the Rights of the Child which states that:

“Governments must do everything they can to protect and care for children affected by war. Children under 15 should not be forced or recruited to take part in a war or join the armed forces. The Convention’s Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict further develops this right, raising the age for direct participation in armed conflict to 18 and establishing a ban on compulsory recruitment for children under 18.”[12]

Beyond this violation, UNRWA is also in violation of 18 US Code § 2339B (Providing material support or resources to designated FTO’s)[13].

Hamas’s Minister of Religion openly admitted to UNRWA’s cooperation with Hamas and that Hamas’ charter is part of the curriculum taught.  The Charter outlines reasons in which they must fight for the cause against the Jews, favoring a Palestinian state in place of Israel, and calling for its obliteration[14].  On the record, the Minister of Religion has outlined how “Hamas’ relationship with UNRWA is good, very good! We assist UNRWA and Hamas cooperates with UNRWA on many levels. Now a direct connection exists between UNRWA and Hamas.”[15]

This connection has been repeatedly disguised and denied by UNRWA’s current Gaza director, Bo Schack. Mr. Schack’s denial of UNRWA’s agency ties within Hamas ignore the fact that  in September,  2012, Hamas-affiliated candidates publically won 25 of 27 seats on UNRWA’s workers union board. It is with this concern that in a letter to Secretary of State, John Kerry, Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois demanded that “The State Department must make clear to the U.N. that it needs to take all the necessary steps to prevent Hamas from using taxpayer-funded property to launch terror attacks against our allies.”[16] That was in 2012. Two years later the reality of the organizational embedment of Hamas in the UNRWA agency would reach into the school yards of UNRWA compound in Jabalia Elementary “C” and Ayyobiya Boys School.

As Israeli military operations targeted active militants and Kassam rocket launch bases, a concern arose when these rockets were discovered to actually have been placed to fire from the compounds of the UNRWA school facilities.   In an incident during July of 2014, rockets were discovered in UNRWA Jabalia Elementary “C” and Ayyobiya Boys School, and were confirmed to have possible connections to Hamas.  Additionally, while PLO leader UNRWA Diana Buttu claimed that the schools were vacant and not in use, the UN board of inquiry observed that the gates were unlocked and children were being allowed inside. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon stated that “I am dismayed that Palestinian militant groups would put United Nations schools at risk by using them to hide their arms.”

The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a press report detailing their intention to launch a criminal investigation, asserting their intentions to launch independent investigations to protect the country from what they describe as “a blatant violation of human law.”  Additionally, The Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs highlights the UNRWA use of Palestinian children and civilians as well as UN sponsored facilities as shields for terrorism[17].

UNRWA’s presence in Gaza has not merely contributed to the domination of a single violent ideology, but it has resulted in attacks and wars between Israel and Hamas.  Rockets fired into Israel with the intention of ravaging the country have been harbored in refugee camps and in close proximity to UNRWA schools and mosques, thus implicating UNRWA’s complacency in these actions. This further necessitated the IDF attacking Gazan schools-, it is Hamas and its strategic placement of weaponry that violates human rights and exploits human beings as physical shields. Following these attacks, UNRWA has admitted to knowledge of missiles being stored in schools

The UNRWA disregard for human life is further illustrated in the actions of the students who attend these UNRWA funded and staffed schools. Thus far, forty one students have become suicide bombers[18], with the r faces pasted on the walls of UNRWA schools and neighborhoods and praised with honor[19].  Children eagerly participate in war games to learn how to operate deadly weapons, withstand war conditions, and conduct tunnel and guerilla warfare. Chants about violently retaking the land and killing Jews permeate both the school year and the summer camps. Indoctrination in the form of poems, songs, paintings, and cartoons mold the impressionable minds of these children, causing one boy of  junior high school age to say: “We are holding weapons…we will free…our homeland…from the heretic pigs of the sons of Zion…we shall return…we will never recognize what is called Israel.”  Seventeen thousand UNRWA youth experience this recruitment brainwashing and arms training. They claim they are “being trained as warriors to fight the evil Israeli presence.” The children preach that “the armed struggle is the only way to liberate Palestine.”  UNRWA Elementary school aged children hold guns and mindlessly chanting about the destruction of Israel.[20]

Many of those who were responsible for the recent wave of stabbings were products of UNRWA camps in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.  In response to this bout of violence, children in UNRWA schools showed support by saying things like, “we have to make war” and “people…are ready to die for Palestine…I want to fight against them and defeat them in war.” and “I want to stab them and drive over them.”  They speak of their dignity being manifested in violence.[21]  The Hamas agenda of a violent and bloody “right to return” is ingrained into the minds of students and results in real attacks that murder and maim innocent people.  The teachings inside UNRWA extends far beyond the instruction of theoretical   values and is directly responsible for violent loss of life.

[1] http://www.unrwa.org/sites/default/files/2015_donors_ranking_overall.pdf

[2] http://israelbehindthenews.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/HamasAssociationwithUNRWA-July2011.pdf

[3] http://israelbehindthenews.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/HamasAssociationwithUNRWA-July2011.pdf

[4] http://www.unrwa.org/sites/default/files/2015_donors_ranking_overall.pdf

[5] http://israelbehindthenews.com/pays-ongoing-decades-long-unrwa-fiasco-matters-latest-data/14777/

[6] http://www.unrwa.org/what-we-do/education

[7] http://www.state.gov/j/ct/rls/other/des/123085.htm

[8] http://israelbehindthenews.com/childrens-army-of-hamas-short/12902/

[9] http://israelbehindthenews.com/library/pdfs/UNRWA-SCHOOLS-IN-GAZA.pdf

[10] http://www.ohchr.org/en/professionalinterest/pages/crc.aspx

[11] http://israelbehindthenews.com/library/pdfs/UNRWA-SCHOOLS-IN-GAZA.pdf

[12] http://www.ohchr.org/en/professionalinterest/pages/crc.aspx

[13] https://www.justice.gov/usam/criminal-resource-manual-16-providing-material-support-designated-terrorist-organizations

[14] http://www.acpr.org.il/resources/hamascharter.html

[15] http://israelbehindthenews.com/childrens-army-of-hamas-short/12902/

[16] http://www.ibtimes.com/marco-rubio-other-us-senators-demand-investigation-unrwa-activity-gaza-1657614

[17] http://www.thetower.org/1955-un-report-confirms-hamas-stored-and-fired-weapons-from-un-schools/

[18]  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zuiH25qOPz8&index=9&list=PLflgjoYrggtwJwF0ziiCjEBSqqb6Zm2rA

[19]  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SnLIzNGb9gI

[20] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iO4UKXmr8zk

[21] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SnLIzNGb9gI

David Bedein is an MSW community organizer and an investigative journalist.   In 1987, Bedein established the Israel Resource News Agency at Beit Agron to accompany foreign journalists in their coverage of Israel, to balance the media lobbies established by the PLO and their allies.   Mr. Bedein has reported for news outlets such as CNN Radio, Makor Rishon, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, BBC and The Jerusalem Post, For four years, Mr. Bedein acted as the Middle East correspondent for The Philadelphia Bulletin, writing 1,062 articles until the newspaper ceased operation in 2010. Bedein has covered breaking Middle East negotiations in Oslo, Ottawa, Shepherdstown, The Wye Plantation, Annapolis, Geneva, Nicosia, Washington, D.C., London, Bonn, and Vienna. Bedein has overseen investigative studies of the Palestinian Authority, the Expulsion Process from Gush Katif and Samaria, The Peres Center for Peace, Peace Now, The International Center for Economic Cooperation of Yossi Beilin, the ISM, Adalah, and the New Israel Fund.   Since 2005, Bedein has also served as Director of the Center for Near East Policy Research.   A focus of the center's investigations is The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). In that context, Bedein authored Roadblock to Peace: How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict - UNRWA Policies Reconsidered, which caps Bedein's 28 years of investigations of UNRWA. The Center for Near East Policy Research has been instrumental in reaching elected officials, decision makers and journalists, commissioning studies, reports, news stories and films. In 2009, the center began decided to produce short movies, in addition to monographs, to film every aspect of UNRWA education in a clear and cogent fashion.   The center has so far produced seven short documentary pieces n UNRWA which have received international acclaim and recognition, showing how which UNRWA promotes anti-Semitism and incitement to violence in their education'   In sum, Bedein has pioneered The UNRWA Reform Initiative, a strategy which calls for donor nations to insist on reasonable reforms of UNRWA. Bedein and his team of experts provide timely briefings to members to legislative bodies world wide, bringing the results of his investigations to donor nations, while demanding reforms based on transparency, refugee resettlement and the demand that terrorists be removed from the UNRWA schools and UNRWA payroll.   Bedein's work can be found at: www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com and www.cfnepr.com. A new site,unrwa-monitor.com, will be launched very soon.

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