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UNRWA’s Role Is to Perpetuate the War Against Israel

Palestinians pass by the gate of an UNRWA-run school in Nablus in the West Bank. Photo: Reuters/Abed Omar Qusini.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) was created in December 1949, after six Arab armies were defeated in their failed attempt to destroy the newly founded State of Israel.

Almost from its inception, UNRWA was hijacked to serve the ongoing battle against Israel’s existence, with a set of refugee conditions and policies that were exclusively and uniquely applicable to Palestinian Arabs.

These conditions and policies were created because, unlike Israel, which absorbed the vast majority of Jews forced out by the Arab and Muslim world, the Arab countries refused to accept Palestinian refugees. Despite their abundant resources, these countries chose to keep people in refugee camps, rather than helping them build new lives. The Palestinians in Jordan’s illegally occupied West Bank were eventually granted Jordanian citizenship, but somehow still kept their refugee status — in contrast to what happens to all other refugees who gain citizenship.

UNRWA was tasked to look after the needs of Arabs displaced by the conflict, by providing aid, education, and accommodation, but, instead, it became twisted into a mechanism for continuing the Arab war on Israel.

UNRWA created a farcical definition of a refugee, designating it as anyone “whose normal place of residence was Palestine between June 1946 and May 1948, who lost both their homes and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict.” Worse, this was later expanded to include all descendants, meaning anyone who lived in Mandate Palestine for less than two years and left for any reason would be declared a refugee — a status that would be passed on to their descendants and descendants’ descendants until the end of time, even if they attained citizenship in another country.

This is in stark contrast to every other refugee group on earth, and it explains the ever-increasing Palestinian refugee numbers from roughly 700,000 in 1948 to at least 5.9 million today.

Every facet of UNRWA is geared towards perpetuating these people’s existence as homeless “refugees” until the day they can “return” to non-existent ancestral homes in Israel — a dangerous fantasy that will never happen, as it would eliminate the world’s only Jewish state.

UNRWA’s mandate forbids the resettlement of any refugee, instead actively requiring they be kept in this permanent state of statelessness and rootlessness. Its education system teaches Palestinians to hate Jews, and that Israel is an illegitimate state. In textbooks, the entire area of the Jewish state is labelled as “Palestine”.

Needless to say, UNRWA’s unprecedented policies and behavior align perfectly with Hamas’ ideology and charter that call for the destruction of Israel through armed violence and the death or expulsion of its Jewish citizens.

When Hamas seized power in a violent coup in Gaza in June 2007, it began to embed its fighters and military infrastructure and equipment in all of Gaza’s civilian infrastructure including UNRWA facilities. It must also be remembered that Hamas already had popular support in Gaza, winning a plurality of votes in the 2006 Palestinian elections, and as that support grew, more UNRWA staff members were affiliated with Hamas.

In May 2023, just a few months before the October 7 terrorist attacks, the EU Parliament passed a resolution, for the fourth year in a row, that condemned the “hateful” content in Palestinian Authority textbooks used by UNRWA, and demanded that “all anti-Semitic references are deleted, and examples that incite hatred and violence are removed.”

That request was ignored, yet the money from donor states to UNRWA kept on flowing.

Unsurprisingly, when Hamas terrorists, including civilians and other Gaza-based terrorist organizations, invaded Israel from Gaza on October 7, UNRWA employees participated in the slaughter, rape, torture, and kidnappings. Even most of the terrorists who were not UNRWA employees, would have been educated in the culture of hate taught in UNRWA schools.

So it’s difficult to take UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres seriously when he says that he was “horrified” by the revelations that at least 12 UNRWA officials and members were directly involved in the massacre that day, along with allegations that 10% of the 13,000 UNRWA staff in Gaza are members of terror groups, and perhaps half have a close family connection to Hamas or Islamic Jihad.

Israeli officials have warned about UNRWA for decades. The UN — where anti-Israel bias has been entrenched into the bureaucratic structures — deliberately chose to ignore the warnings.

As a result of these revelations, many countries, including the US and Australia, have suspended funding to UNRWA, pending an investigation into its terror links. And while it’s true that UNRWA distributes most of the humanitarian aid in Gaza, it’s also true that over the past four months, Hamas has been stealing up to 66% of that aid, according to Israeli intelligence sources. So, in effect, UNRWA acts as a supply line for Hamas, rather than for needy Gazans.

For UNRWA, the 1948 war continues forever, and UNRWA’s very existence is designed to ensure an open, festering wound of the eternal, ever-expanding Palestinian refugees, which is never allowed to heal.

For any progress toward genuine peace, UNRWA needs to be dismantled sooner rather than later, and its duties taken over by other, less tainted UN bodies, such as the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the UN’s main agency for looking after all the world’s millions of refugees who are not Palestinian. UNHCR, unlike UNRWA, has successfully resettled more than 50 million refugees and helped them to rebuild their lives, rather than remain immersed in violence and hatred.

Justin Amler is a Policy Analyst at the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC).

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Two Hostages Rescued in Gaza During Daring Rafah Operation

Fernando Simon Marman and Louis Hare, two Israeli hostages who, according to the Israeli military, were freed in a special forces operation in Rafah, Gaza, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, reunite with loved ones at the Sheba Medical Center, in Ramat Gan, Israel, February 12, 2024, in this still image obtained from a video. Israel Defense Forces/Handout via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY

Israelis celebrated the daring rescue operation in the Rafah section of Gaza that brought home two elderly hostages on Monday. “‘You have no greater mitzvah than redeeming captives’ (Rambam).

The IDF announced the rescue of 70 year old Norberto Louis Har and 61 year old Fernando Simon Marman early Monday morning in what was detailed to be a risky but successful operation. Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, who serves as the IDF Spokesman, detailed the operation, whereby members of Israel’s elite Yamam unit, the Shin Bet, and the IDF entered the densely populated Rafah city in southern Gaza.

Arriving at 1 am, they entered a building and headed to “the second floor where the hostages were held,” according to Hagari. After killing a number of terrorists, they took the hostages, taking them to a safe area where they were airlifted to Israel.  During the operation troops were given “intense firepower from the air. Fire was opened from nearby buildings. The Air Force struck intensively there.”

According to the IDF, no soldiers were killed during the rescue operation while the Hamas-run Health Ministry which does not distinguish between civilians and terrorists claimed that over 100 Palestinians were killed.

“Fernando and Louis – welcome home. I salute our brave warriors for the bold action that led to their liberation. Only the continuation of military pressure, until complete victory, will result in the release of all our abductees,” said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “We will not miss any opportunity to bring them home.”

The rescued hostages were brought to Sheba Medical Center in central Israel where they were checked and reunited with their families.

The niece of Fernando, Gefen Sigal Ilan, told Israeli media “They came back pale and thin, they haven’t seen sunlight for four months and it shows on them. They both really like good food, so little by little they will get back to enjoying it.”

The father of Eldor said on Monday “No soldier who was kidnapped, no hostage, and no victim of this horror must be in vain. It’s time to bring them all back, we can’t abandon them.”

The operation in the Rafah area is the first public entry by Israeli forces into the southernmost portion of the Gaza Strip, where an estimated 1.5 million Gazans are sheltering after being evacuated from their homes elsewhere in the Strip. Despite the mass of Gazans in Rafah, bordering Egypt, the neighboring Arab states, and Western governments have refused to let any refugees leave the coastal enclave. Objections to operations in Rafah have come from them all, including US President Joe Biden who told Netanyahu in a phone call on Sunday that the IDF should not enter Rafah without proper plans to protect civilians.

Similarly, British Foreign Minister David Cameron said he is “deeply concerned about the prospect of a military offensive” in Rafah. European Foreign Minister Joseph Borrell also said an operation would result in a “unspeakable humanitarian catastrophe.”

Netanyahu has been firm in pushing Israel’s need to enter Rafah, known as a Hamas stronghold and the last part of the Strip where they have in-tact military battalions. Additionally, it is thought that Hamas leadership is hiding in tunnels beneath Rafah. Netanyahu told ABC News on Sunday, “We’re going to do it. We’re going to get the remaining Hamas terrorist battalions in Rafah, which is the last bastion.”

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Gallant: Seizing Internal Hamas Documents Brings Hostage Deal Closer

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant meeting with IDF commanders, including members of the elite Shayetet 13 marine commando unit, in Atlit, Israel, Jan. 17, 2023. Photo: Ariel Hermoni (Israel’s Ministry of Defense)

i24 NewsIsraeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant provided a review to fellow ministers of weapons and documents belonging to Hamas, which were collected by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Document and Technical Means Collection Unit (Amshat) operating in the Gaza Strip.

“This morning we are hosting the government meeting at the IDF, in the defense establishment, to show the ministers exactly how we are achieving and deepening our achievements and what is coming out of the Gaza Strip,” Gallant explained.

“You can see a small part of the things here – missiles, explosive charges, mines, a great many maps, means of communication, documents, computers, drives, all these things which the IDF uses now on as intelligence, and not only that,” the defense minister continued.

“These demonstrate that we penetrated into the heart of the most sensitive places of Hamas and use their intelligence against them,” Gallant described the process of attaining the documents and weapons, hinting at some of the locations from where it was found.

“We are using their weapons against them, detonating them in the field, all this leads to the consequence of deepening and penetrating the heart of Hamas’ capabilities,” the defense minister said.

“The more we deepen our operations, the closer we get to a realistic deal in order to return the hostages,” Gallant concluded.

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