The renewed Canadian support for UNRWA may end up in the wrong hands, warns the Center for Near East Policy Research, headed by David Bedein.
Marie-Claude Bibeau, Canada’s Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, announced on November 16, 2016, $20 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) to help increase access to these essential services. A proportion of Canadian funding will also be used to expand training for staff on the proper and neutral use of social media. $5 million to UNRWA’s emergency appeal for Palestinian refugees impacted by the crisis in Syria and surrounding areas.
Briefing members of the Israeli Knesset (Parliament) on January 3, 2017, Bedein said that terrorist groups like Hamas and the the Islamic Jihad operate in UNRWA facilities in the Gaza Strip, and this fact should set off alarms for donor countries. CIJnews was told that a similar briefing is planned to take place in Ottawa during the winter sitting of Parliament.
On January 3, 2017, Palestinian news site elnnews.com reported that a tunnel built by al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ military/ terrorist wing, beneath UNRWA school in al-Maghazi neighborhood, collapsed in late December 2016 causing severe damages to some classrooms. According to the report, a disaster was avoided as the incident occurred during the night.
The anti-Hamas site added, “Hundreds of tunnels run beneath our homes, schools, mosques and private properties… Gazans who oppose it are being arrested and tried for treason and of taking position against the resistance… Not long ago, the occupation forces [Israel] bombed al-Fakhura school [run by UNRWA] killing dozens in school as a result of the irresponsible behavior by operatives of al-Qassam [Brigades] who launched rockets from the vicinity of the school which was packed with women and children.”
The al-Fakhura School incident refers to an Israeli military strike that took place during the Gaza War on 6 January 2009 near a United Nations-run school in the Jabalia Camp in the Gaza Strip. Israel stated it fired on the school in response to militant gunfire believed to be coming from al-Fakhura.
For more than a decade, Hamas the governing authority in the Gaza Strip has been developping a sophisticated network of military tunnels with branches beneath many Gazan towns and cities. Some of them are cross-border tunnels and were used to launch attacks inside Israeli territories. During the last year, numerous tunnels collapsed killing operatives of al-Qassam Brigades who dug, equipped and operated them. On December 7, 2016, al-Qassam Brigades reported that two of its operatives were killed when a tunnel collapsed in Gaza.
During “Protective Edge” operation( July – August 2014) overwhelming evidence linking Palestinian terrorist organizations to UNRWA has surfaced, including:
- August 2, 2014: 11 mortar shells were fired by terrorists from the vicinity of an UNRWA school in the Zeitoun neighborhood in Gaza and UNRWA facilities (clinic and distribution center) in Jebalya.
- August 1, 2014: IDF documented a rocket launcher pad in the vicinity of al-Mahtal Hotel in the al-Shati refugee camp. The UN sign is clearly seen on the buildings’ roof.
- July 30, 2014: IDF forces uncovered an attack tunnel reportedly dug from inside an UNRWA health clinic in the area of al-Farahin in east Khan Younis. During IDF searches Hamas operatives detonated 12 explosive charges planted inside the building, killing 3 Israeli soldiers.
- July 25, 2014: Palestinian terrorists fired mortar shells and anti tank rockets from the vicinity of an UNRWA school and from inside it, causing the death of an Israeli soldier.
- July 24, 2014: The IDF Spokesperson reported on that “in recent days” Hamas launched rockets from the area of Beit Hanoun where an UNRWA shelter is located.
- FRENCH 24 reporter documented rockets launching in the vicinity of UNRWA school.
- UNRWA reported on July 17, 2014 that rockets were discovered inside a vacant UNRWA school in Gaza. UNRWA’s press release did not specify the name of the school, the type of the rockets and to which organization the rockets were transferred.
- UNRWA reported on July 22, 2014 that rockets were discovered in a vacant school in Gaza. UNRWA’s press release did not specify the name of the school, the type and the number of the rockets and to which organization the rockets were transferred.
- UNRWA reported on July 30, 2014 that rockets were discovered in a school in Gaza. According its press release (which for an unknown reason was not posted on the UNRWA website) UNRWA could not send a UN munitions expert to disarm and remove the weapons “because of fighting in the vicinity.” UNRWA did not specify the name of the school, the type and the number of the rockets and to which organization the rockets were eventually transferred.
- The IDF Spokesperson reported on July 26 that IDF forces discovered in an attack tunnel equipment belonging to UNRWA, including flour sacs bearing the UNRWA emblem, that were used by Hamas to conceal the removal of the sand during the digging operation.
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