The United Nations Works and Relief Agency, [UNWRA] the agency which runs Palestinian Refugee camps in Gaza has become an instrument of the Hamas regime in Gaza, a senior researcher told a gathering of about 50 Canadian parliamentarians and staffers in the Senate Briefing Room on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on March 27, 2012 in a special briefing that was hosted by MP Mark Adler of Toronto.
In an interview following the event, Jonathan D. Halevi, a Senior researcher of the Middle East and radical Islam at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs headed by former Israeli Ambassador to the UN, Dr. Dore Gold, said that “UNWRA in Gaza is just a tool in the hands of Hamas.”
He added that “Money provided by Western countries to UNWRA in Gaza is being used to fund a Hamas agenda- one of terrorism with the goal of eliminating Israel.”
Virtually all of UNWRA workers in Gaza as well as the West Bank are local Palestinians, explained Halevi, who is a former advisor to the Policy Planning Division of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“In the 2009 UNWRA worker union elections, Hamas won 63% of the seats and Suhailal-Hindi, a senior Hamas figure, was re-elected to head the union.”
In 2011, after the Center for Near East Policy exposed this in a movie that was shown in a private screening for members of the Canadian Parliament, UNRWA suspended al-Hindi, but then, as Halevi said, “UNWRA was depicted by Hamas as a traitor to the Palestinian cause and UNWRA later retreated from this decision under pressure from Hamas and workers’ union.”
Halevi noted that the Hamas affiliated head of UNRWA’s teachers sector told principals and teachers at UNWRA schools in Gaza to “burn the maps that mention Israel on them” and “to teach students the borders of historical Palestine.”
UNWRA workers have also sided with terrorists. For example, Halevi said “In October 12, 2011, UNRWA employees were instructed to leave their work place and join a rally in support of ‘ Palestinian prisoners’ in Israeli jail. One such prisoner, was Abdallah Barghouti, convicted of murdering67 Israelis.”
UNRWA facilities in Gaza openly promote the right of return of all refugees to pre-67 Israel, said Halevi, who is a retired career intelligence officer and fellow at the American Center for Democracy.
The message for Nakba ceremonies in 2011 in Gaza schools, including in those of UNWRA, was that “the occupier (Israel) is inevitably on his way to demise.”
Halevi also noted that Al-Kutla al-Islamiya, ( the Islamic block) is Hamas’s official arm operating in all educational institutions in the Gaza Strip, from elementary schools to colleges and universities, including the educational institutions run by UNRWA.
“Its strategy is to strengthen the bonds with the students as well as their belief in Islam, and expose them gradually to Hamas ideology in order to make them active members of the Islamic movement,” Halevi said.
“In each school, including those run by UNRWA, Hamas appoints a student to head an al-Kutla local branch, who operates as point of contact for Hamas. This point man is responsible for recruiting students to the Kutla and organizing activities inside school and after-school,” he added.
Last summer, masked gunmen from an Islamist group torched UNWRA-run summer camp for children and teens in Gaza.The assailants burned tents, vandalized bathrooms, left behind three bullets and a note threatening to kill John Ging, the head of UNWRA and others unless the UN cancels its activities for some 250,000 Gaza children. UNRWA camps were apparently targeted for teaching school girls fitness, dancing and immorality.
But according to Halevi, although Hamas never took responsibility for the attacks on UNWRA’s summer camps, the attacks were Hamas backed. “They wanted to tame UNWRA and they wanted UNWRA to be a full client of Hamas. They want the money given by donor nations to UNWRA to be controlled wholly by Hamas. Hamas also ran its own summer camps and did not want competition from UNWRA.”
Halevi also said that when donor nations send money to the PA [Palestinian Authority], the PA sends money for government salaries to Gaza, and since Hamas has ensured its supporters have replaced Fatah loyalists in government jobs, this money “goes to Hamas operatives.”
Halevi claims that one of the reasons Western nations keep sending money to UNWRA, even when they suspect it is falling into the hands of Hamas, is that it is “a payoff” because they are afraid that Palestinians could launch terror attacks in their countries, if they ceased doing so.”
Halevi also said that neither the PA or Hamas will allow Palestinian refugees to leave the refugee camps and re-settle elsewhere in the West Bank and Gaza or in other countries, in order to perpetuate the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the notion that the refugees will return en masse to overrun Israel.
Halevi’s talk on Parliament Hill was arranged by the Center of Near East Policy and Research headed by investigative journalist David Bedein.
[In a follow up article, we will report on the presentation given at this event by another expert on the subject of School books taught in UNWRA schools in the West Bank and Gaza by Dr.Arnon Groiss who was appointed by the US government to join a blue ribbon panel which monitors the sensitive issue of incitement during Middle East negotiations. Dr Groiss works as a senior journalist for the Israel Broadcasting Authority’s Arabic Radio (since 1973) and is a leading expert on the translations of Palestinian schoolbooks used in the UNWRA schools.