The Biden administration repeatedly praised the United Nations’ Palestinian aid organization as “essential” in the weeks and months after Hamas’s Oct. 7 terror attack in Israel, going so far as to defend the agency against allegations it works alongside the Iran-backed terror group. Then allegations emerged late last month that at least 12 of the organization’s employees participated in the attack that left 1,200 dead.
The State Department spent nearly three months defending U.N. Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) against allegations that the group promoted anti-Semitic educational materials and calling its humanitarian work “valuable” and “essential.”
“I would reject that interpretation of UNRWA,” State Department spokesman Matt Miller said in a Nov. 1 press briefing, when reporters raised questions about the aid group’s longstanding ties to Hamas and promotion of educational materials that advocate Israel’s destruction. “It is a United Nations agency that provides humanitarian assistance to innocent civilians in Gaza.”
Since 2021, the Biden administration has sent more than $1 billion in taxpayer funds to UNRWA, making the United States its largest contributor. Funding for the agency was frozen during the Trump administration due to UNRWA’s ties to Hamas and promotion of anti-Israel propaganda.
Miller continued to defend UNRWA through mid-January, even after evidence emerged indicating the aid group’s employees helped Hamas hide Israeli hostages.
“UNRWA has done and continues to do valuable work to address the humanitarian situation in Gaza,” Miller said at a Jan. 17 briefing.
The Biden administration ultimately paused American funding for UNRWA late last month, after overwhelming evidence emerged showing the aid group’s employees worked alongside Hamas to kill Jews.
The temporary pause has led GOP lawmakers in Congress to propose cutting all U.S. aid to UNRWA permanently.
Rep. Brian Mast (R., Fla.) said during a congressional hearing last month that it is likely the Biden administration pushed out “tens of millions” of dollars to UNRWA before announcing a halt in funding.
“It does appear as though they may have waited to make this announcement until after they allowed for a disbursement of tens of millions of dollars to go out to UNRWA on or before Jan. 24, and if that’s the case it should be considered outrageous,” said Mast, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.