That rocket launchers were found at U.N. facilities is hardly surprising. Fifteen years ago, the Gaza-based employees of the U.N. Relief and Works Agency held elections to determine its union leaders. Hamas took advantage of the campaign and took over the entire school system. By 2012, more the 90 percent of UNRWA employees had become Hamas supporters.

As a result of the takeover, Hamas created an entire apparatus whose mission was to maintain its grip on all the Gaza-based UNRWA schools. The organization, Al-Kutla Al-Islamiya (the Islamic Bloc), changed the school curriculum and introduced new textbooks. Anyone looking at the subject matter would see an organization that is bent on disseminating its ideology to young Gazans.

The takeover of UNRWA was an inside job, carried out by the Hamas representatives who were assigned to each school and whose job was to recruit students to the Islamic Bloc. This ensured the schools had programs that prepared the pupils for the armed struggle against Israel. This includes their grooming as “would-be shaheeds [martyrs]” and brainwashing them on the “right of return.” To get a an idea of the indoctrination that is taking place in Gaza, it would suffice to look at the Islamic Bloc’s YouTube clips, which allegedly feature UNRWA instructors doing Hamas’ bidding.

My organization has also been documenting the UNRWA-administered summer camps for many years. We have been aided by a Palestinian team. The footage clearly shows that the campers are not introduced to the values of the U.N. but rather to the values of jihad, espousing the “liberation of Palestine” and the “right of return,” by means of an armed struggle.

Despite this being an open secret — all of UNRWA’s donors are in the know, including the United States and Israel — the organization is still considered a welfare and relief agency that could provide an “alternative to Hamas.” But if you ask Gazans what UNRWA has done for them, they would say “nothing,” (that is, except perpetuate their refugee status). Hamas knows the reason. It has a vested interest in ensuring that conditions remain unchanged and that the millions of greenbacks keep flowing in. This keeps the “right of return” relevant.

Donors use Israel to facilitate their transactions. It receives the money and hands it over to UNRWA officials who are affiliated with Hamas. Rockets and tunnels may be the most pressing concern right now, but over the long haul, it is the brainwashing and the stagnation among Gazan schoolchildren that should have us worried. It could lead to yet another unwanted conflagration.

Israel must insist on an international mechanism to follow the money, to ensure that the textbooks and teachers carry out the job they were hired to perform. Such a mechanism would primarily serve Gazans, by improving their lives. At the very least it will have helped reduce the threat Israelis face in the long run. We have had our fair share of committees of inquiries, we don’t need another one to investigate why Israel became complicit in funding the Hamas-dominated UNRWA schools.

David Bedein is the director of the Center for Near East Policy Research. He has studied UNRWA’s policies for 26 years.


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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.