Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Dan Gillerman, sent a letter to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Sunday, October 3rd, 2004, demanding the dismissal of Peter Hansen from his position as commissioner-general of UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Work Agency), the organization that administers the Palestinian Arab refugee camps, under the premise and promise of the “right of return” to the homes and villages their ancestors left in 1948. In addition, Gillerman called for the United Nations to conduct a full investigation of UNWRA.

15 months ago, the Hamas terror organization won more than 90% of the vote to run the UNRWA workers union in the UNRWA Arab refugee camps in Gaza. The salaries of UNRWA workers are paid through contributions that UNRWA receives from 38 contributing countries. The U.S. provides 30% of that budget, Canada contributes 4% of that budget, and the European countries contribute well over 55% of that budget.

In other words, the western democracies of the world pay the salaries of the Hamas terrorists on the payroll of UNRWA.

During a special UNRWA conference on the subject of Palestinian Arab refugees in Geneva last June, I asked UNRWA Director Peter Hanson about the fact that Hamas dominated his personnel. Hansen did not deny that fact. Instead, Hansen remarked that, “UNRWA does not check the religious affiliation of its workers” – as if the Hamas was some kind of religious denomination.

The Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Watan reported on June 11, 2003:

Hamas followers won a remarkable victory in the elections to the clerks union of UNRWA in the Gaza strip, gaining 23 out of the 27 seats. 6,780 from among the entitled 7, 616 clerks participated in the voting. Hamas followers achieved also 6 (out of 7) seats in the workers sector, 6 seats (out of 9) in the services sector and all 11 seats in the teachers sector. Their victory enables them to form the executive committee of the union comprising 9 members.

Lebanon’s Filastin Al-Muslima reported in July, 2003 (p. 5):

The Islamic Bloc affiliated with the Hamas movement won an overwhelming victory in the elections to the clerks [union] of UNRWA held on the 9th June, 2003. More than 8000 clerks from teachers, services and workers sectors participated in the voting. The Hamas organization which gained 23 seats out of 27 in the elections to the three mentioned sectors, considered this victory as a evidence to the ‘popular backing’ of the Hamas and its ideology advocating the continuous armed struggle against Israeli occupation.

The Islamic Bloc in the teachers sector gained all 11 seats allocated to this sector. Its candidates in the northern districts of [the] Gaza [strip] won 91.7% of the total vote. In Gaza [city] and Shati [refugee camp] areas they gained 57.04%; in central districts 88.04%; in Khan Yunis district 92.03% and in Rafah district 81.06%.

In the elections to the services sector the Islamic Bloc gained 6 seats out of the 9 allocated to all Gazan districts, while in the worker sector it achieved 6 out of 7 seats. Yusouf Abu Zubaida, the Islamic Bloc’s candidate in Rafah district, attained 45.74% of the vote. Abd Aziz Daber, its candidate in Khan Yunis district, won 60.07% of the vote. In Dir Al-Balah the Islamic Bloc candidate failed to win a majority. Muhamad Darwish, the PFLP (Popular Front for the Liberation Of Palestine, another terrorist group) candidate won the election gaining 63.03% of the vote.

The Islamic Bloc candidates in Nuseart (Ala Jaber) and Al-Bureij (Zaki Shoubier) won the election with 50.06 % and 43.84% respectively. Amir Atallah won a noticeable achievement in the election in the Shati refugee camp gaining 100% of the vote. Maher Zaqout, another candidate of the Islamic Bloc, achieved 85.85% of the votes in the northern districts of [the] Gaza [strip].

Hamas candidate Area Percentage of Votes

Yusouf Abu Zubaida, Rafah district: 45.74%
Abd Aziz DaberKhan, Yunis district: 60.07%
Ala Jaber, Nuseart: 50.06 %
Zaki Shoubier, Al-Bureij: 43.84%
Maher Zaqout, Northern districts of Gaza: 85.85%
Amir Atallah, Shati: 100%

This is the Islamic Bloc’s consecutive fourth victory since 1990 in the elections to the UNRWA clerks’ union. Suhail Al-Hindi, who was elected in the teachers’ sector as a representative of the Islamic Bloc, emphasized in response to the Islamic Bloc’s decisive victory, the [broad] scope of support the Islamic movement enjoys in the ‘Palestinian street’…He considered this victory as evidence of the “Palestinian Street support for this movement [Hamas] and its rejection to Abu Mazen’s policy toward the cessation of the resistance against Israeli occupation”….The organizations which participated in the elections are: The Islamic Bloc [Hamas], the Palestinian Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), the Palestinian Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PDFLP) and the Fatah movement.

More information on how terrorists use UNRWA facilities can be found at

The question remains: Will the western nations also demand that UNRWA fire workers who are members of the Hamas terrorist organization, especially since the West provides the operating budget of UNRWA?

This matter is of particular interest to Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ), the deputy chairman of the U.S. House International Relations Committee. Exactly one year ago, in October 2003, Smith noted that a special clause of the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act forbids the U.S. from aiding any humanitarian agency where military training is conducted. Congressman Smith called for the U.S. to apply this standard to UNRWA, because of reports that he received about the UNRWA camps being transformed into training grounds for military attacks against Israel. In other words, more terrorism subsidized by the U.S. taxpayer.

This article ran in on October 4th, 2004


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David Bedein
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: and A new site,, will be launched very soon.