1,200 UNRWA staffers have ties to Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad: intelligence report

(Photo: Unsplash/Ash Hayes)

An Israeli official has claimed that the United Nations Relief and Works Agency is a “haven for Hamas’ radical ideology” after an Israeli intelligence report estimated that around 10% of the agency’s 12,000 staffers in Gaza have ties to Hamas and other Islamic terrorist groups. 

According to the dossier provided to the United States and reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, estimates suggest that about 1,200 UNRWA employees in Gaza have links to Hamas, the terror group that has controlled the Gaza Strip since 2007, or the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. 

Additionally, the intelligence suggests that about half of the agency’s employees have family members who belong to extremist groups, both of which the U.S. has recognized as foreign terror organizations since 1997. 

Evidence within the intelligence report came from cell phone data, interrogations with Hamas fighters and documents discovered on the bodies of dead militants. 

The report comes days after the United Nations announced that at least nine UNRWA employees were terminated amid allegations they participated in Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre that killed over 1,200 people in southern Israel, mostly civilians, including 31 Americans. About 240 others were abducted. 

The Oct. 7 attacks sparked an Israeli military offensive in Gaza seeking to eradicate Hamas and free the hostages. The Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry reports that over 26,000 people have been killed since the war began. Those figures don’t differentiate between combatants and civilians. 

“UNRWA’s problem is not just ‘a few bad apples’ involved in the October 7 massacre,” a senior Israeli government official told WSJ. “The institution as a whole is a haven for Hamas’ radical ideology.”

The UNRWA did not immediately respond to The Christian Post’s request for comment.

Nine countries, including the U.S., have halted aid to UNRWA following accusations that at least 12 of the agency’s employees had connections with Hamas’ attacks against Israel. In addition to the nine who were terminated, the U.N. says one has been killed, and the identities of two others are being clarified. 

Six workers of UNRWA allegedly took part in the Oct. 7 massacre, according to the intelligence report reviewed by WSJ, and two are accused of helping to kidnap Israelis. Seven of the 12 accused employees were reportedly primary or secondary school teachers. 

Two employees were tracked to locations where multiple Israeli civilians were murdered, and others are believed to have assisted with procuring weapons and coordinating logistics for the attack. 

On Monday, The Times of Israel provided more details about the intelligence dossier, noting that the report alleges a UNRWA school counselor from Khan Younis worked with his son to abduct a woman from Israel.

The report described a social worker with the agency who is believed to have brought the body of a dead Israeli soldier to Gaza. The same social worker allegedly distributed ammunition and helped to direct vehicles on Oct. 7. 

TOI reports that a third employee was described as taking part in the massacre at Kibbutz Be’eri where 97 people died. 

UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini responded to the recent allegations against the agency in a Saturday statement, urging the countries that suspended funding to the agency to reconsider their decision. 

“It is shocking to see a suspension of funds to the Agency in reaction to allegations against a small group of staff, especially given the immediate action that UNRWA took by terminating their contracts and asking for a transparent independent investigation. The U.N. Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS), the highest investigative authority in the U.N. system, has already been seized of this very serious matter,” the commissioner general stated. 

Lazzarini stated that OIOS is investigating the accusations and that external experts will conduct a review of UNRWA to “strengthen its framework for the strict adherence of all staff to the humanitarian principles.” 

“I urge countries who have suspended their funding to re-consider their decisions before UNRWA is forced to suspend its humanitarian response. The lives of people in Gaza depend on this support and so does regional stability,” the statement continued. 

UNRWA employees have previously faced scrutiny for their alleged ties to terrorist groups. 

In November, a report from Israeli Channel 13’s Almog Boker claimed a teacher with UNRWA held captive one of the hostages Hamas abducted during its attack. The teacher allegedly kept a man in his attic for over a month and barely provided him with any food and neglected the man’s medical needs. 

At the time, the UNRWA and the U.N. said in a statement that they were taking the allegations seriously and requested more information from the Israeli journalist. 

“Despite repeated demands, the journalist has not responded,” UNRWA stated, adding that it asked the journalist to remove his post because it was “unsupported by any evidence or verifiable facts in support thereof may amount to misinformation.” 

Members of UNRWA have also been accused of celebrating Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre. In 2008, Reuters reported that a former headmaster and science teacher at a U.N. school in Gaza built rockets for the Islamic Jihad terror group.

Courtesy of The Christian Post.

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