Readers who believe the fabrication that residents of Gaza are poverty-stricken Arabs living in muddy shacks with nothing to eat should find this article comforting.
Hamas has released its latest online campaign video to bring new tourists to Gaza.
The hashtag in Arabic reads: #ShukranHamas — #ThankYouHamas.
The ceaseless barrage by Hamas of rocket and mortar fire aimed at Israel and the abduction and murder of three Israeli teenagers in Gush Etzion prompted a military response from the Israel Defense Forces in July and August 2014. But since then, Gaza has been a very busy place.
Countries from around the world have poured money into the region to help rehabilitate the infrastructure. Israeli forces silenced the rocket fire emanating from the residential buildings, hospitals and schools, aimed by Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists. The two terror organizations deliberately embedded their military operations among civilians in order to use them as human shields. They maximized the destruction of their own cities and the deaths of their own citizens in order to exploit the media coverage for future fundraising.
It worked, of course.
After the war, Israel was excoriated for taking out the rocket launchers and other weaponry in order to neutralize the threat to its own civilian population.
And money poured in to Gaza from all quarters, as did construction supplies. Israel was forced to allow dual use materials into the region. That doesn’t include the daily in-and-out movement of people and the humanitarian aid shipments, foodstuffs, dry goods, and fuel that still flow through the border crossings, along with repeated attempts to smuggle weapons, explosives and military parts among the goods as well.
As the infrastructure and residential buildings were rebuilt, so too was the subterranean military structure of the ruling terrorist authority, which has been caught repeatedly siphoning off money and supplies intended for civilian use. This month, bona fide employees of the United Nations have been caught working for Hamas. But it hasn’t stopped the process; in fact, the United Nations has done absolutely nothing about it. Probably, it can’t and likely it wouldn’t anyway. During the last war more than a few UNRWA schools were used as storage facilities for missiles. Nothing concrete was done about that either, other than a public slap on the wrist, probably for having been stupid enough to get caught on camera. Israel, naturally, was condemned in a formal inquiry after the war.
But should anyone believe the fiction that residents of Gaza are still suffering due to restrictions by Israel, please don’t hesitate to retain the link to this article on your desktop, and review it periodically. Or at least, retain the link to the YouTube video so thoughtfully provided by Hamas. That, at least, should reassure such readers that nothing could be further from the truth.
“An article by Rachel Ehrenfeld and Alyssa A. Lappen reported that in 2001 the Islamic Development Bank transferred $538 million raised by Saudi and Gulf royal telethons to support families of Palestinian suicide bombers and the cause of the Palestinian intifada. On August 1, 2001 Dr Ahmad Muhammad Ali, a Saudi academic and president of the Islamic Development Bank, reportedly said during an interview with Asharq al-Awsat: “There was no delay in paying financial assistance to the families of Palestinian martyrs…We have started paying them soon after receiving the money.”[
Dr Ali had previously declared that IDB was responsible for the smooth functioning of al-Quds Intifada Fund and al-Aqsa Fund, both established during an Arab summit in Cairo in October 2000. According to the final communiqué of the summit, “Al-Quds Intifadah Fund will have a capital of 200 million dollars to be allocated for disbursement to the families of Palestinian martyrs fallen in the Intifadah.”
And the IDB has done just that. Between 1975 to 2005, the IDB approved over $50 billion in funding to Muslim countries,22 ostensibly to develop their economic and educational infrastructures, but effected little regional economic impact. Its educational efforts, however, paid huge yields—via the rapid and significant spread of radical Islam worldwide. Moreover, in 2001 alone, the IDB transferred $538 million23 raised publicly by Saudi and Gulf royal telethons to support the Palestinian intifada and families of Palestinian suicide bombers. The IDB has also channeled UN funds to Hamas, as documented by bank records discovered in the West Bank and Gaza. Yet, the IDB received UN observer status in 2007.24
According to a 1991 U.S. Library of Congress report on Sudan, the IDB also supported Faisal Islamic Bank, established in 1977 under Sudan’s Faisal Islamic Bank Act by Saudi prince Muhammad ibn Faisal Al Saud and managed by local Muslim Brotherhood members and their party, the National Islamic Front.
Back in August of 2001, Ahmad Muhammad Ali, president of the bank, was questioned by the publication Asharq Al-Awsat about payments to the Palestinian Authority for the sake of carrying out the intifada. Ali told the publication that “there was no delay in paying financial assistance to the families of Palestinian martyrs,” assuring it, “We have started paying them soon after receiving the money.”
An Arab Summit in Cairo in late October of 2000 created two funds, the Al-Quds Intifadah Fund and the Al-Aqsa Fund. According to Ali, the IDB is responsible “for the smooth functioning of the two funds.” The final communiqué of the summit made no attempt to conceal the purpose of the funds: “the Al-Quds Intifadah Fund will have a capital of 200 million dollars to be allocated for disbursement to the families of Palestinian martyrs fallen in the Intifadah.”
Saudi funds which originate in the Jeddah based Islamic Development Bank (IDB) reach the Palestinian Authority Treasury Department via Account 98 of the Saudi Development Fund (SDF). All funds for Prince Salman Ibn Abd Al-Aziz’s Popular Committee for Assisting the Palestinian Mujahideen go directly to the PLO, while Prince Nayef’s funds from the Support Committee for the Al-Quds Intifada and Al-Aqsa Fund go to the Palestinian Authority. (MEMRI- http://www.memri.org/report/en/0/0/0/0/0/0/902.htm)
Moreover, in 2001 alone, the IDB transferred $538 million raised publicly by Saudi and Gulf royal telethons to support the Palestinian Intifada and families of Palestinian suicide bombers. The IDB has also channeled U.N. funds to Hamas, as documented by bank records discovered in the West Bank and Gaza. And yet the IDB received U.N. observer status in 2007.
Both houses of Congress are at work to modify funding bills for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), as part of an effort to investigate the very legitimacy of the decades-old agency, Michael Wilner reported in the Jerusalem Post Friday. Both the House and the Senate want the State Department to, once and for all, define the term “Palestinian refugee,” and while they’re at it, reveal how many are receiving aid from UNRWA.
UNRWA was established in 1948 to assist the 750,000 Palestinians who had left Israel. Since then UNRWA has been a promoter of the Palestinian cause, funding as many as 5 million “refugees,” the majority of whom never left the homes where they were born in the Gaza Strip, the “West Bank,” eastern Jerusalem, or other Arab countries, to the tune of $1.23 billion annually, $250 million of which is donated by US taxpayers.
Many in Congress have been saying, since about 2012, that the majority of Palestinians are permanently settled, and should not be under the jurisdiction of a refugee agency.
Needless to say, Wilner points out, “such a finding would fundamentally change the narrative of the decades-old conflict.”
The first Palestinian census was completed 15 years ago, and the head of the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) admitted then that the census was, in effect, “a civil intifada” rather than a scientific survey. In 2011 the Bureau attempted to correct that blatant misrepresentation, claiming that 2.6 million Palestinian Arabs inhabit Judea and Samaria.
But Israeli demographer Yoram Ettinger challenged those numbers, claiming they overstated the real number of Arabs there by as much as 66%. He explained that the PCBS’s total counts 400,000 Palestinians living overseas, and double-counts 240,000 Jerusalem Arabs. It also undercounted Palestinian emigration.
In 2014, UNRWA came up with the figure of 5 million Palestinian refugees living in Gaza, Judea and Samaria, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon, and the US responded by providing hundreds of millions of dollars for UNRWA’s health, education, and social service programs.
“UNRWA is sort of becoming an entitlement program of the Middle East, and the desire is to increase transparency on who actually are refugees relevant to that conflict,” a senior Senate aide familiar with the language told Wilner, suggesting the new bill “goes to the heart of the debate over UNRWA funding.”
Republicans in both houses have launched parallel efforts to compel the State Department to go on the record with who qualifies as a “Palestinian refugee,” and the combined version of the law, once passed, will compel the secretary of state to provide “a justification of why it is in the national interest of the United States to provide funds to UNRWA.”
The bill’s language continues: “Such justification shall include an analysis of the current definition of Palestinian refugees that is used by UNRWA, how that definition corresponds with, or differs from, that used by UNHCR, other UN agencies, and the United States Government, and whether such definition furthers the prospects for lasting peace in the region.”
And, naturally, “the committee directs that such report be posted on the publicly available website of the Department of State.”
Finally, it should be noted that there are two distinct definitions of the term “refugee” in international law.
A refugee, according to the United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, is a person who is outside their country of citizenship because they have well-founded grounds for fear of persecution because of their race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, and is unable to obtain sanctuary from their home country or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail themselves of the protection of that country; or in the case of not having a nationality and being outside their country of former habitual residence as a result of such event, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to their country of former habitual residence.
It is rare for a refugee status to extend beyond the lifetime of the original refugee, because normally it is expected that their offspring will have settled someplace else.
Not so regarding Palestinian refugees, according to UNRWA’s definition of the term, which includes the patrilineal descendants of the original “Palestinian refugees,” limited to persons residing in UNRWA’s areas of operation in the Palestinian territories, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria.
A newly released 10-minute online video produced by the Jerusalem-based Center for Near East Policy Research says that many of the Palestinians who have murdered Israelis during the so-called “stabbing intifada,” which began in September 2015, were educated in schools run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).
Titled “The UNRWA road to terror: Palestinian classroom incitement,” the video claims that the current wave of violence was not spontaneous, but rather has roots deriving “from an educational curriculum taught to Palestinians beginning in first grade.”
Thirty-eight Israelis and tourists have been murdered in the nine-month-long Palestinian terror wave, most recently the shooting at Tel Aviv’s Sarona market that killed four Israelis.
UNRWA’s curriculum, the video says, is focused on “jihad,” while UNRWA teachers glorify the so-called “right of return” of Palestinian refugees through war. The video reveals a military-themed school play held in April 2016 at the UNRWA Nuseirat School in Gaza, in which students hold an Israeli hostage at gunpoint and emerge from a tunnel in order to carry out an attack against Israelis—the latter scene mirroring the Hamas terror group’s efforts to attack the Jewish state through cross-border tunnels running underground from Gaza to Israel.
The footage begins by zooming in on classrooms of Palestinian children repeating phrases chanted by their teachers such as “Palestine is an Arab land from the river to the sea” and “We want Haifa, we want Acre,” with no recognition of a state called Israel.
The scene then shifts to numerous one-on-one interviews with Palestinian children in the courtyards of their schools in various Jerusalem neighborhoods and surrounding areas, in which they admit that they are taught in school that it is their destiny to violently “reclaim” the entire country they refer to only as “Palestine.”
One student from the Shuafat refugee camp says that his UNRWA educators “teach us in school that Jews are fickle, bad people.” He adds, “I am ready to stab a Jew and drive [a car] over them.” Another student from Shuafat says, “We have to constantly stab them, drive over them, and shoot them (the Jews).”
A child from Kalandia is filmed saying that he is taught about how “Zionists are our enemy, and [we] must fight them.” A different student at the same school says, “With Allah’s help I will fight for ISIS, the Islamic State.”
Documentary filmmaker David Bedein, director of the Center of Near East Policy Research, says that the U.N. member states who are the funders of UNRWA schools should be held accountable for the agency’s hate education. Bedein says that at the top of that list of funders is the United States—UNRWA’s largest donor, providing $400 million of the organization’s annual $1.2 billion budget.
U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.) echoes Bedein, tellingFoxNews.com that an UNRWA education “does not in any way prepare the Palestinian population or future generations of Palestinians for peace with Israelis. It is unacceptable that the international community, including the United States, is funding UNRWA without demanding change.”
According to Bedein, about 100 Palestinian children studying in UNRWA schools were interviewed for the video. Those children, he tells JNS.org, “have been indoctrinated to believe that they have the right to kill Jews, because they took their land.”
He adds that the children “learn that in all of the villages that their great-grandparents lost in 1948, that it’s kosher to walk into any place that used to be one of those villages whether Tel Aviv or Jerusalem and kill the people who live there.”
Asked why the Israeli Ministry of Education doesn’t get involved in stopping UNWRA’s incitement, Bedein says the ministry’s hands are tied and that it can’t interfere with UNRWA schools. He says that Israel’s Defense Ministry and Foreign Ministry, however, “could have a say in it but choose not to.”
Bedein explains that the philosophy of the Israeli government “is that the U.N. schools give an opportunity to have peace education as an alternative to Hamas or terrorist education. However, the reality is that UNRWA is operating in a way that it’s providing worse incitement than the Palestinian Authority incitement or Hamas incitement. It’s a level of cognitive dissonance, and people don’t want to hear what they don’t want to hear.”
It is highly disturbing, says Bedein, that the students interviewed in the video weren’t living in Gaza under Hamas rule, but rather in or near Israel’s capital of Jerusalem.
“It’s literally a 10-minute ride from Mount Scopus in Jerusalem to the Shuafat refugee camp run by UNRWA, where this incitement is taking place,” he says.
The new video has started to gain traction on social media. The Israel education organization StandWithUs recently shared the video with its 970,000 followers on Facebook.
“The teaching of racism and religious supremacism in UNRWA schools plays a major role in the violence Palestinian terrorists are inflicting on innocent Israelis,” StandWithUs CEO Roz Rothstein tells JNS.org. “This incitement of Palestinian children hurts Israelis and Palestinians alike, and must be stopped for there to be lasting peace.”
When asked to comment on the video and on America’s annual $400 million support of UNRWA, a press attaché at the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem declined comment and instead referred JNS.org to UNRWA. In an emailed response to JNS.org, UNRWA spokesperson Christopher Gunness denied the film’s accusations and questioned its standards.
Gunness says that the “generalized allegation made in the film that many Palestinian children who murdered Jews came from UNRWA schools is completely unsubstantiated in the film, which produces no evidence to prove this.”
According to Gunness, “In this latest, he (Bedein) takes non-UNRWA facilities and falsely claims they belong to UNRWA. He shows teachers claiming they are UNRWA teachers when in fact they are not and he plays the same tricks with students, often misrepresenting what they say in translations.”
“As a neutral U.N. humanitarian agency, UNRWA is committed to promoting non-violence and the highest standards of neutrality,” adds Gunness. “Our condemnation of all forms of racism, including anti-Semitism, is a matter of public record.”
In response to Gunness, Bedein—who says he has been monitoring UNRWA’s activities for 28 years—maintains that his research on UNRWA in the latest video and past videos is authentic, and that the videos “should be cause for this humanitarian organization (UNRWA) to carry out a self-introspection.”
“Instead of denying [the new video’s] validity,” says Bedein, “UNRWA should bring it to the attention of donor nations that they are funding war curriculum education within a U.N. organization, so that the situation can be rectified.”
Bedein says that his institution’s next project will be to translate all of the latest Palestinian Authority textbooks from Arabic into English, to prove that “despite the fact the U.S. government issued a statement that [the books] have been evaluated and teach ‘peace,’ we have seen the books, and that’s not the case.”
“Incitement to Violence without Borders” has reached the British Parliament, where UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness spoke to a “charity” organization that channels money to the Hamas terrorist party and army.
The U.S. government formally has declared the British-based Interpal “charity” group a terrorist organization because it helps Hamas keep its pockets full of cash.
The State Dept. was unable to answer a question posed at a press briefing this week if Gunness’ speaking to Interpal might be included in a possible investigation of UNRWA incitement, an issue that has been raised because of its employees’ hateful anti-Israel posts on social media.
State Dept. spokesman John Kirby said he would” take the question,” but he has not given back an answer.
The Washington Free Beacon asked for a clarification about Gunness’ speech and was told:
We have seen the reports on this event, though we did not attend. We understand that the UNRWA spokesperson attended an event at the British Parliament to benefit wounded Palestinian children, hosted by several of its members.
We have long made known our commitment to UNRWA’s absolutely essential work in helping Palestinian refugees—including many refugee children. And we have made clear our position that UNRWA must be able to work independently and free from bias.
Bias at the UNRWA? Gunness Biased, the same Gunness who has called the IDF “callous” for trying to stop Hamas missile attacks on half of Israel last summer and :who has blamed the “blockade” for what he declared is a rise in the mortality rate of infnats in Gaza?
And what did Gunness have to tell Interpol last week?
He talked about “little Mohammed,” whom he said was blended by an IDF artillery shell in the war against Hamas last summer. He also spoke about a “child who froze to death.” That is Israel’s fault, he said, because of the “slow pace of reconstruction,” although another reason just might be Hamas’s using construction material to build weapons factories and rockets.
Here is UNRWA’s response to the Free Beacon when asked about Gunness’ appearing at an organization that the United States has designated a terrorist group:
UNRWA Spokesman Chris Gunness spoke at an event in the UK Parliament sponsored and attended by British Members of Parliament about a project supported by a legally registered UK charity to help approximately 300 blind and visually impaired Palestinian children in Gaza in need of special assistance.
It did not say what the U.S. Treasury has to say about the British-based group:
Interpal, headquartered in the UK, has been a principal charity utilized to hide the flow of money to HAMAS. Reporting indicates it is the conduit through which money flows to Hamas from other charities, e.g., the Al Aqsa Foundation, and that it oversees the activities of other charities.
Florida Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen this week proposed a law that would cut off U.S. funding to UNRWA unless it document that its employees have no links with terrorist organizations and can certify that no employees of the organization have ties to terrorism or anti-Semitic incitement.
The Florida legislator said in a statement, according to the Free Beacon:
In response to the increased terror and violence in Israel, we must hold those who are responsible for inciting this violence accountable, and that includes UNRWA.
The U.S. can’t continue to send $400 million to UNRWA while ignoring the systemic and endemic anti-Israel, anti-Semitic bias and the blatant incitement to violence we see from its employees.
UNRWA employees and facilities are consistently tied to foreign terrorist organizations and a full accounting of the agency’s affiliations should be required before another dime is spent on this divisive organization.
The State Dept. Tuesday issued a rare condemnation of terror “against Israelis citizens’ without directly mentioning injuries to Palestinian Authority and Israeli Arab terrorists and rioters, who are called “civilians” by Western leaders and media.
Spokesman John Kirby said:
The United States condemns in the strongest terms today’s terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians, which resulted in the murder of three Israelis and left numerous others wounded.
He added, “We mourn any loss of innocent life, Israeli or Palestinian, but the statement was a clear change from the usual “balanced” statements that express sorrow for victims on “both sides.”
Kirby added the routine comments that the United States is “in regular contact with the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority [and] remain[s] deeply concerned about escalating tensions and urge all sides to take affirmative steps to restore calm and prevent actions that would further escalate tensions.
More important is what Kirby did not say.
He did not call on “both sides” to prevent injuries, which would imply that Israel must tolerate rioters and use limited force against terrorists.
Even more significant was the omission of any reference to the Temple Mount and the Al Aqsa mosque, which is at the heart of the Arab campaign that accuses Israel of trying to prevent Muslims from praying there while supposedly encouraging “settlers” to destroy it.
Israel indeed has prevented Muslims from using the mosque as a launching pad for attacking police and Jews, as well as non-Jews, who visit the site. That is not exactly what the value of “freedom of worship” means.
The change in tone by the United States is a sign that the traditionally successful Arab lie of playing the victim is not going to work this time.
The Palestinian Authority already is churning out the same warped reports that Hamas previously has fabricated to suck the sympathy and anti-Zionist venom of the European Union and United Nations, if not to a lesser degree the State Dept. and the Obama administration.
Arab media are working overtime to tell the world that more than 1,000 Arabs have been wounded by Israelis forces, compared with only a few dozen Jews who have been stabbed or shot by terrorists,. It has headlined that more than 30 Arabs have been killed, compared with less than a dozen Israelis victims.
It wants to convince everyone that it is disproportionate when more terrorists are killed than Jews.
The official Palestinian Authority still calls the terrorists “martyrs”, and the Palestinian Authority’s official WAFA website today was full of reports with headlines such as:
Israeli Police Kills Teenager, Injures another near Jerusalem.
Israeli Police Fatally shoot 3 Palestinians, Critically Injure another in Jerusalem.
It also reported that Israeli officials “claimed” that Arabs had staged the attacks.
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah has called on the European Union “to exert pressure on Israel to immediately end its military escalation against Palestinians in the occupied territories.”
He also “called for an end to settlers’ extremism and their daily violations in Jerusalem and the West Bank against vulnerable communities and sacred and holy sites.”
Hamdallah then urged “the United Nations Security Council to take immediate action to stop the grave Israeli escalations and provide international protection to the Palestinian people.”
UNRWA, as usual, has cooperated, and said that Israeli forces are using “excessive use of force [that] “may be contrary to international law enforcement standards.”
It made no mention of Palestinian Authority or Israeli Arab murders and attempted murders of Jews.
The United States is not buying it, and it is questionable how much the European Union will swallow it.
EU Federica Mogherini said earlier this week, “Far from preventing the resumption of a political dialogue, the latest tensions should push both parties to work together for the sake of their people.”
The U.S. State Department issued a quiet little bombshell with an unheralded press release dated April 27, which revealed that on April 24, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power announced that an additional $6 million of U.S. taxpayer money is being provided to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) “in response to the devastating crisis in Yarmouk.”
This tranche brings the total U.S. contributions to UNRWA in response to the crisis in Syria to more than $57 million in 2015 alone. Keep in mind that UNRWA only serves those designated by the U.N. as “Palestinian refugees,” and not ordinary Syrian citizens.
What has happened in Yarmouk, Syria, has indeed led to a grave humanitarian crisis. Still, the context matters.
When the barbarian ISIS members entered the “Palestinian refugee” camp of Yarmouk, on the edge of Damascus, earlier this month, it had already been the site of two years of deadly clashes.
Those clashes were largely between the members of the Palestinian Front for the Liberation of Palestine – General Command, which supports the Assad regime, and the Palestinian Arab camp residents who oppose the Baathist regime of Assad. Yarmouk was also the site of several bombing raids by Syrian Army jets.
So for years, as the civil war in Syria has raged on, the civilian population throughout Syria has suffered appallingly. The recent murders and brief takeover of Yarmouk by ISIS has further led to “severe restrictions on food, medicine, clean water and electricity.” This is tragic, beyond a doubt.
But is the answer to the problem to just keep funneling in money to UNRWA, an agency that would not exist were these particular people living in Syria not labeled “Palestinian refugees”? The fallout from the latest tragedies would exist, of course, because of the Syrian civil war and the ISIS barbarism, but it is exponentially larger because the people in this “refugee camp” have never been absorbed into the general population of Syria (or Lebanon or Jordan, for that matter).
Why is it that the U.S. government believes taxpayer funds must be used to sustain a “Palestinian refugee” population indefinitely, putting aside the question of why they are considered refugees at all. That civilians caught in a brutal civil war should be the recipients of humanitarian aid is beyond dispute, but the duplications, to say nothing of the cost of maintaining a separate humanitarian agency just to serve one separate, designated afflicted group cannot be efficient, to say the least.
According to UNRWA (which exists solely to support these “refugees”), “there are 480,000 Palestinian refugees in Syria,” a full 95 percent of whom rely on UNRWA for their basic needs.
Not only that, but 470,000 of those “refugees” rely on small grants to sustain them: in other words, UNRWA is supplying the goods and services for their basic needs in addition to a cash supplement. If this special population were absorbed by their Muslim brethren anytime over the preceding half-century, it is impossible to believe they would not be vastly better off and better able to withstand the current onslaught.
To put it in context, the devastating series of earthquakes that struck in and around Nepal this month has already claimed thousands of lives. The number dead is expected to increase to 10,000. At least eight million people have been affected, nearly one quarter the country’s population, with over two million living in the most severely affected districts.
Vast swathes of the Nepalese infrastructure have been destroyed; the damage is inestimable.