The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees has finally admitted what has been obvious for years: at least some of its employees support or are members of terrorist groups such as Hamas.

Evidence provided by the Israeli government that show the relief agency’s employees participated in the horrific Oct. 7 terrorist attacks in Israel led the organization to “immediately terminate the contracts of these staff members and launch an investigation.”

The evidence also forced the U.S. State Department to temporarily pause “additional funding” for the agency as well. This is largely symbolic, as current commitments will remain in effect. Moreover, simply delaying America’s generous payments to the agency will not send the strong signal needed to pressure it to reform.  

There also might not be much money to pause. Knowing that the House of Representatives is skeptical of its funding and that the weight of evidence against the organization was growing, the Biden administration prioritized speeding its money out the door. Much of the money available for the relief agency is probably already in its bank accounts.

The announced pause is likely designed to mollify Congress until attention shifts elsewhere. The State Department has a long history of tolerating the U.N. agency’s malfeasance. And this administration’s track record suggests that, once the news fades, efforts to “unpause” funding will begin—even if the problems continue.

These problems are nothing new. The Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees has a history of employing individuals affiliated with Hamas. Over and over, the agency’s schools in the Middle East have used textbooks with extremist and antisemitic content. Photos and reports have repeatedly shown its classrooms displaying other materials that delegitimize Israel, denigrate Jews, and venerate martyrdom.  

Such manifest bias was a key reason behind the Trump administration’s decision to suspend U.S. funding in 2018.

Notwithstanding the agency’s tolerance for extremism—and despite clear evidence that some of its employees were members of Hamas and supported its goals—one of the Biden administration’s first decisions was to restore its funding. Big time. According to the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, “In 2023 alone, the United States has contributed more than $296 million to UNRWA [the agency]. And the Biden administration has contributed nearly $1 billion since 2021.”

Of course, Biden’s State Department said the renewed funding was contingent on the U.N. agency’s policing its employees and classrooms. But it did not enforce this expectation. Dollars continued to flow in the face of numerous reports of the agency’s violations by journalists, nongovernmental organizations, and even the European Union.

Last year, the Geneva-based nongovernmental organization U.N. Watch reported numerous examples of “UNRWA’s gross and systematic violations of neutrality and other U.N. rules in their hiring of teachers and in their use of curricula inside UNRWA schools that constitute incitement to hatred, antisemitism, and terrorism.”

Numerous reports over the years indicated that Hamas would place weapons and tunnels in or near agency schools and hospitals and even launch attacks from its facilities. Nonetheless, the organization would always profess surprise and condemn these revelations.

The current conflict in Gaza has revealed the extent of the relief agency’s corrupt relationship with Hamas. According to Israeli Col. Elad Shushan, “There is not a UNRWA site—school, mosque, or kindergarten—in which we didn’t find weapons. None. One hundred percent.”

There is no conceivable way that the vast majority of the agency’s employees did not know about this pervasive misuse of its schools and hospitals by Hamas. By failing to report such violations of its obligation to neutrality, these employees made the organization complicit.

During the recent conflict, advocates have excused the agency, asserting that it is the best option to support Gazan civilians harmed by the war. But there is mounting evidence that Hamas is stealing aid meant to help civilians. Moreover, the relief agency has been accused of covering it up.

And now, worst of all, its employees are accused of directly participating in the horrific terrorist attacks of Oct. 7 that murdered, raped, and tortured innocents—Americans as well as Israelis. As the recent announcement of a temporary funding pause implicitly admits, the Biden administration was wrong to resume funding. However, a temporary pause is woefully inadequate.

The agency has a long record of sympathy for Hamas; employment of Hamas members; and vulnerability to extremism, antisemitism, and politicization.

But the depth of this problem is only now becoming clear. This is not a situation of a few bad apples within the organization. According to The Wall Street Journal:

Intelligence estimates shared with the U.S. conclude that around 1,200 of UNRWA’s roughly 12,000 employees in Gaza have links to Hamas or Palestinian Islamic Jihad. … Two officials familiar with the intelligence said the UNRWA employees considered to have ties with militant groups were deemed to be “operatives,” indicating they took active part in the organization’s military or political framework. The report said 23% of UNRWA’s male employees had ties to Hamas, a higher percentage than the average of 15% for adult males in Gaza, indicating a higher politicization of the agency than the population at large. Nearly half of all UNRWA employees—an estimated 49%—also had close relatives who also had official ties to the militant groups, especially Hamas, the intelligence reports said.

Quite simply, this U.N. agency is fundamentally compromised and cannot be trusted to serve as a neutral humanitarian actor.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees is not part of the solution. It instead has contributed to the problem. Congress should ensure that all U.S. funding for this hopelessly compromised agency is ended immediately and permanently.

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