Congress Warns ‘Thousands’ of United Nations Employees Could Be Working With Hamas
The twelve employees found to be involved in Hamas’s October 7 attack ‘are just the tip of the iceberg,’ one Congressman warns.
Thousands of United Nations employees could be working with Hamas, Congress is alleging, as the Biden administration plays “a shell game” over funding Palestinian Arabs.
At a hearing convened by the House’s Foreign Affairs committee on Tuesday, members of Congress sounded alarm bells about the evidence of the close ties between the UN’s Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees and jihadist terrorism. While the State Department froze funding to Unrwa last week, some committee members are urging the agency to be disbanded altogether.
The UN has fired several of the twelve relief agency employees who were found to be involved in Hamas’s October 7 attack and is investigating whether others have engaged in acts of terror.
“Those twelve employees are just the tip of the iceberg,” Congressman Rich McCormick said at the hearing, “when you talk about possibly thousands of employees loyal to Hamas, and antisemitic and anti-American interests.” He recommends ceasing all American funding to the UN until the agency is free of corruption and antisemitism.
Meanwhile, the White House is engaging in “a shell game” over freezing its funds to Unrwa, Congressman Brian Mast, who chaired the hearing, said. He pointed out that the US waited to pause its contributions to the agency only after it committed $51 million to its work in the West Bank and Gaza for 2024, according to a fact sheet released this month by the US Agency for International Development.
The US, as the top donor to the UN agency at Gaza, has only paused “additional funding to Unrwa” following the allegations against it, the ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, reaffirmed to reporters at Turtle Bay on Tuesday.
The Congressional hearing got heated when Mr. Mast scrutinized witnesses who declined to defend Unrwa, but expressed support for a continuation of American funding for the agency — wanting to “have their cake and eat it too,” he said. “Do the Rohingya have an Unrwa?” Mr. Mast asked a professor of public affairs, Mara Rodman, referencing the persecuted Muslim minority group in Myanmar. He added, “No Unrwa for the Sudanese?”
“Unrwa is a unique agency with a unique mission,” Ms. Rodman replied, a point she asserted three separate times upon repeated questioning from Mr. Mast. He grilled her on what “the threshold of bad behavior” at Unrwa would be to necessitate that the US stop supporting it. “100 people confirmed working for Hamas as a part of Unrwa, for you, would not be a threshold for cutting ties with Unrwa?”
Ms. Rodman shimmied away from the question and asserted that “the threshold is US national security interests and concerns.” Yet as a senior advisor at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Richard Goldberg, asserted on the House floor, “Unrwa is a horror show that is decades in the making, co-produced by the United States taxpayer.”
American taxpayers contributed more than $6 billion to Unrwa between 1950 and 2018, a report by the Congressional Research Agency discloses. That money funds Hamas’s terrorist ambitions like the construction of concrete walls of Gaza’s tunnels, Mr. Goldberg said. The watchdog group, OpenTheBooks.com, calculates that President Biden has contributed $1 billion since just 2021 alone.
The testimonies were punctuated by anti-Israel protests. “Please don’t defund Unrwa,” a member of the feminist group that opposes “U.S. wars & militarism,” Codepink, Leslie Angeline, shouted out during the hearing before being escorted out of the room by US Capitol Police. Other demonstrators sitting in the back rows of the room wore the traditional Palestinian Keffiyeh scarves and held up their hands, painted red in protest.
Established as a subsidiary organ of the United Nations General Assembly in 1949, Unrwa is the second largest employer in the Gaza Strip, after Hamas. According to Israeli intelligence shared with the Israeli newspaper, Israel Hayom, agency employees receive, free education, health, dental care, food distribution and welfare services — benefits which encourage many Hamas terrorists to register themselves as agency employees.
That helps explain why 3,000 of the Unrwa teachers celebrated October 7 in a secret Telegram group, as the watchdog group, UN Watch, reported, while around 130 staffers have been found promoting terror and incitement online. Unrwa also continues to count “refugees” who left the camps it controls as if they still live there, Hayom reports, raising the number of people reportedly under its jurisdiction.
To restructure the US governments’ approach to Unrwa, Mr. Goldberg calls for removing the State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration oversight over the agency until “aid is transitioned away from Unrwa completely,” as stated in a report he prepared for the hearing.