Israel Criticizes UN Report on UNRWA's Alleged Ties to Hamas

Israel criticizes UN report on UNRWA's alleged ties to Hamas, claims it fails to address evidence of staff links to terror groups and hate-teaching in textbooks. The controversy raises questions about UNRWA's neutrality amid the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Muthana Al-Najjar
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Israel Criticizes UN Report on UNRWA's Alleged Ties to Hamas

Israel Criticizes UN Report on UNRWA's Alleged Ties to Hamas

Israel has strongly criticized a United Nations interim report on the investigation into allegations of staff involvement by the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in the deadly October 7 Hamas attack, claiming that the report fails to address fundamental flaws and evidence of UNRWA employees' ties to terrorist groups, the teaching of hate in UNRWA textbooks, and Hamas' use of UNRWA facilities.

The Israeli government provided evidence of links between 2,135 UNRWA workers and terrorist organizations, as well as details of Hamas tunnels located beneath UNRWA's main headquarters in Gaza. Additionally, the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (Impact-se) submitted a 245-page dossier documenting instances of "institutional hate-teaching" in UNRWA textbooks, including the glorification of jihad, terrorism, and anti-Semitism.

Israel has called for the dissolution of UNRWA, while other nations have defended the agency's work in providing aid to Palestinian civilians. The United States intelligence assessment concluded that some UNRWA staff members participated in the October 7 incident but could not verify Israel's broader accusations against the agency.

Why this matters: The allegations against UNRWA have significant implications for the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the provision of humanitarian aid to Palestinians. The controversy surrounding UNRWA's alleged ties to Hamas and the content of its educational materials raises questions about the agency's neutrality and its role in the region.

The UN report, set to be published on Monday, April 22, 2024, is said to focus on "minor cosmetic changes" rather than addressing the substantive issues raised by Israel. While the independent review led by former French foreign minister Catherine Colonna found limited evidence to support Israel's frequent criticism of UNRWA's use of Palestinian Authority textbooks with antisemitic content, it also noted that UNRWA has regularly provided Israel with lists of its employees for vetting purposes since 2011, without the Israeli government informing UNRWA of any staff-related concerns.

The October 7 Hamas attack, which caught Israel's security establishment off guard, was the deadliest assault in the nation's history. It triggered a devastating war in Gaza that claimed the lives of over 34,000 Palestinians, primarily civilians, and resulted in a humanitarian catastrophe. In the wake of the intelligence failures surrounding the attack, Israeli military intelligence chief Maj Gen Aharon Haliva resigned, acknowledging that the intelligence directorate under his command "did not live up to the task."

Key Takeaways

  • Israel criticizes UN report on UNRWA staff ties to Hamas, hate in textbooks.
  • Israel provided evidence of 2,135 UNRWA workers linked to terrorist groups.
  • US intel found some UNRWA staff involved in Oct 7 Hamas attack, but couldn't verify broader claims.
  • UN report to focus on "minor cosmetic changes" rather than addressing Israel's concerns.
  • Oct 7 Hamas attack was deadliest in Israel's history, triggering a devastating Gaza war.