JERUSALEM, Israel – As Israel looks beyond the war with Hamas, Israel wants to see a major revamping or complete dismantling of UNRWA – the United Nations Relief and Works Agency. Israeli government leaders accuse the UN organization of using American tax dollars to fuel hatred and terror against the Jewish state.
“After the 7th of October, everything changed, and we have to take down Hamas. Whatever was – cannot be in the future. If we want a different future that we’ll be able to live here securely, things must change. And it starts with UNRWA,” Israeli Knesset Member Sharren Haskel told CBN News.
Haskel created the Knesset Caucus to Reform UNRWA nine years ago.
“UNRWA is an organization of the United Nations that is a complete coverup for Hamas activities. Hamas has taken over this organization. They are inciting and educating children to violence and hatred. They’re teaching them martyrdom, how to be child soldiers. That’s their education system. It’s based on radical Islam,” Haskel said.
In caring for so-called Palestinian refugees, which now include all the generations kept in camps since the original refugees from the 1948 War of Independence, the UNRWA website states: UNWRA’s services include: “primary and vocational education, primary health care, relief and social services… and camp improvement.”
Refugees live in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, the West Bank (biblical Judea and Samaria) and the Gaza Strip.
“We need to understand that UNRWA is not an organization that provides education and welfare and health care. That’s merely the façade,” said Dr. Einat Wilf, co-author of The War of Return: How Western Indulgence of the Palestinian Dream has Obstructed the Path to Peace.
“It’s an organization that has two deep roles: to ensure that the conflict from 1948 remains an open case and therefore that there is a permanent question mark on Israel’s very existence, creating generation after generation of Palestinians who believe that one day Israel will not exist,” Wilf told CBN News.
Wilf says that’s why the Palestinians have been kept as refugees, believing that one day, they’ll win the 1948 war. And she adds UNRWA relieves Hamas of any humanitarian responsibility.
“It essentially removes any need for Hamas to be responsible for the people of Gaza, thereby allowing it to focus on building tunnels, on butchering Israelis, and that’s what UNRWA does,” she said.
That thinking was confirmed by senior Hamas member Mousa Abu Marzouk who said, “These tunnels are meant to protect us (Hamas) from the (Israeli) airplanes, and it is the responsibility of the United Nations to protect them (the Gazan refugees).”
David Bedein started “Israel Behind the News” in 1987, in part, to expose the teachings and practices going on inside U.N. facilities in Gaza and the West Bank.
“There’s a generation that does not know that UNRWA was started in order to undermine the State of Israel. Count Folke Bernadotte, who was the first U.N. mediator, he was upset with the Law of Return,” Bedein told CBN News.
The Law of Return allows Jews worldwide to immigrate to Israel.
“So, (Bernadotte) said, well, the Palestinians have to have the ‘Right of Return.’ And he was the person behind the resolution, which became UN resolution 194, and (enshrines) the inalienable right to go back to where they (the Palestinians) came from in ‘48, instead of being absorbed like any other refugee,” Bedein explained.
“We have been through 1,000 schoolbooks used by the Palestinian Authority at UNRWA. We were offered by a prominent rabbi $10,000 for a research grant to find anything for peace. I said, ‘Look, I’d like to have your money, but it doesn’t exist.’ And we went through those 1, 000 books. It is one system – not for hatred – but for murder,” Bedein recalled.
He says although his organization produced 24 films and research projects over the years, people didn’t believe it until the October 7th massacre.
“What we filmed, along the Gaza border and also in Judea and Samaria, were children being trained to murder in their summer camps – kidnappings, rapes, you know – firing on IDF vehicles, etc. Now, they’re listening,” he added.
Knesset Member Simcha Rothman says Israel is stuck with UNRWA and will need to take care of it.
“But the fact that countries that object to terror and would look in a very, harsh way, (at) anyone who will try to educate people to murder (to) their own children in a school system, should look the same on UNRWA,” Rothman said.
He says UNRWA funding needs to stop.
“So the fact that the UNRWA gets money from the U. S., from other countries as a donation and this money supports terror, actively supports terror, needs to stop. There is no excuse for educating for terror. There is no excuse for facilitating the next October 7th,” Rothman added.
Wilf says, unfortunately, Israel cooperated with UNRWA for years, thinking it was a moderating force.
“Israel has to do a 180 and declare quite clearly that it will no longer cooperate with UNRWA. UNRWA provides no benefit and no country that is a friend of Israel should give any money to UNRWA,” Wilf said.
Dan Diker, president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, contends that Gaza has become a forward base for the Iranian regime.
“UNRWA has become an international brand. Just like the United Nations has become an international brand and it is one of the greatest deceptions of modern political history. The United Nations is a hornet’s nest of Jew-hatred, is a hornet’s nest of deception, is a hornet’s nest of terror-supporting policies and organizations,” Diker told CBN News.
He added, “Today, it’s the Iranian regime that is mobilizing UNRWA with its Hamas proxy to incite the murdering of Jews and Israelis (and) to carry out acts of terror. They have sanctified as a strategic objective the destruction of Israel from within UNRWA compounds and organizations within Gaza.”
Diker believes an international body, led by the US, should be formed to supervise UNRWA donations until the organization can be dissolved and responsibility given to local Palestinians.
Though they have different ideas about how to deal with UNRWA, experts agree that whether UNRWA is dissolved immediately or over time, it’s clear that changes will have to be made.