Commentary on Political Economy

Sunday 11 February 2024



Hamas Was Right Under Unrwa’s Nose


“UNRWA did not know what is under its headquarters,” writes Philippe Lazzarini, the agency’s chief. “UNRWA staff left its headquarters in Gaza City on 12 October,” he adds. “We have not used that compound since we left it nor are we aware of any activity that may have taken place there.”

Does he expect the world to believe that a sophisticated engineering operation was begun by Hamas only in the past few months, amid Israeli bombardment, after Unrwa had moved? As the Journal reports, “In 2014, part of the parking lot at the Unrwa headquarters in Gaza began sinking, likely from a Hamas tunnel dug beneath. ‘No one talked about what was causing the collapse,’ a former Unrwa official said, ‘but everyone knew.’”

The conspiracy of silence endures. On Oct. 20, William Deere, the director of Unrwa’s Washington Representative Office, wrote to deny our claims that Hamas was stealing aid and Unrwa had long employed Hamas members. “Not a single ‘fact’ in the editorial was correct,” he wrote, underlining the sentence and stressing that all Unrwa staff are “screened.”

Since then, Israel has provided evidence that 12 Unrwa employees took part in the Oct. 7 massacre, and that 1,200 are affiliated with or members of Hamas and Islamic Jihad. The evidence was credible enough for most Western nations to suspend future funding commitments to Unrwa. (Present funding continues.)

Hillel Neuer of U.N. Watch exposed a chat group of 3,000 Unrwa teachers celebrating the Oct. 7 attack. The U.N. “could not possibly have been shocked that Unrwa employees are implicated in terrorism,” Mr. Neuer told Congress. “We sent them reports in 2021, 2019, 2017, 2015.” But “they never contacted us for information. They refused our repeated written requests to meet to discuss the problem. They cannot say they didn’t know.”

On Saturday the U.N.’s Special Rapporteur on the Palestinian Territories, Francesca Albanese, took to Twitter to tut-tut French President Emmanuel Macron for calling Oct. 7 “the largest antisemitic massacre of our century.”

“No, Mr. @EmmanuelMacron,” she wrote, “The victims of 7/10 were not killed because of their Judaism, but in response to Israel’s oppression.” Oct. 7 wasn’t antisemitic and was Israel’s fault? Such is the twisted moral universe of the United Nations.

Unrwa’s function is to prevent Palestinians from moving on with their lives. It blocks resettlement and state building, keeping third- and fourth-generation refugees waiting in terrorist-incubating camps for an eventual return after the destruction of Israel. The day after the Gaza war will be a brighter one if Unrwa and Hamas exit the stage together.

Journal Editorial Report: The week's best and worst from Kim Strassel, Kyle Peterson and Dan Henninger. Images: EPA/AP/Zuma Press Composite: Mark Kelly

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