Hamas and Islamic Jihad have effectively captured the United Nations agency to care for Palestinian refugees, a report said.
The Center for Near East Policy Research asserted that Hamas and Jihad controlled the UN Refugee and Works Agency in the Gaza Strip. In a report, the U.S.-based center said Hamas operatives were in control of UNRWA’s labor union and that refugee camps served as a recruiting ground for Islamist fighters.
“Over the years, UNRWA has become a convenient surrogate for terrorist organizations, led by Hamas, which unrestrictedly dominates the UNRWA workers union, and its men – along with educators from the Islamic Jihad and other groups – are the ones who educate generations of descendants of Palestinian refugees about the values of jihad against Israel and all infidels,” the report, titled “The UNRWA-Hamas Axis,” said.
Author Jonathan Halevi, a leading Israeli analyst on Palestinian affairs, cited the discovery of rocket caches in several UNRWA schools during the Hamas war with Israel in July and August 2014. Halevi also said Hamas built an attack tunnel from a UN health clinic and boobytrapped the facility.
The report said the UNRWA union has been under control of Hamas operative Suheil Al Hindi, who won a landslide victory in elections in 2012. The 11,500 employees gave Hamas all 11 seats in UNRWA’s teachers’ union and 14 out of 16 seats in the employees and service sectors.
“Al Hindi, who in the past also headed the teachers’ sector at UNRWA, does not hide his affinity for the Hamas organization and takes part in overt political activities as its representative,” the report, released in August 2014, said. “In his capacity and as a supervisor of student summer camps, Al Hindi has a tremendous impact on the UNRWA education system and the contents taught in it.”
“UNRWA’s management is well aware, at least since 2004, of the fact that Suheil Al Hindi, who headed the UNRWA teachers sector, is a senior Hamas activist who supports jihad against Israel and suicide bombings,” the report said.
Another leading Hamas figure in UNWRA was identified as Issa Abdul Hadi Al Batran. The report said the 41-year-old Al Batran has been a senior member of Hamas’ Izzedin Kassam military wing. In 2009, Al Batran was fired after he was seriously injured when a bomb developed for Hamas prematurely exploded.
Other leading insurgents employed by UNRWA included Awad Al Qiq, a principal at a UN school as well as head of Jihad’s weapons production unit. Said Siyam served as a teacher for UNWRA for 23 years until he became Hamas interior minister.
“Despite being a well-known senior activist in Hamas, UNRWA did not take steps to remove him [Siyam] from its ranks,” the report said.
In all, dozens of Hamas military commanders were said to have begun as employees for UNRWA. The report said Jihad also infiltrated the UN agency.
“Hamas’ takeover of the UNRWA institutions and UNRWA staff should set off alarms regarding the possibility of funding given by donor countries – primarily the United States – finding its way to financing the salaries of Hamas and Islamic Jihad activists,” the report said.