Photo Credit: Abed Rahim Khatib / Flash 90
A sign on the United Nations Relief and Works Agency building in Rafah, the southern Gaza Strip, Nov. 29, 2021.

A 21-acre plot of land near the Qalandiya checkpoint has become the focus of Israel’s latest clash with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, UNRWA.

The agency allegedly illegally built its compound without a proper permit for its use of the land, which was purchased at the start of the 1900s by Jewish donors living abroad. The donors then transferred ownership of the land to the KKL-JNF organization for development of Jewish homes in the Jerusalem area.


But activists linked to UNRWA took over the plot. Among the structures built on the site are a school and a memorial honoring Jerusalem-area terrorists.

On January 14, 2024, the Israel Land Authority (ILA) sent a letter to UNRWA demanding the agency vacate the compound, located in the northern Jerusalem neighborhood of Kfar Aqab, citing its lack of a permit to use the state-owned plot.

“You are hereby required to immediately cease all unlawful use, demolish everything you have built illegally, evacuate the land of all persons and/or objects and restore the situation to its previous state, within 30 days of the date of this letter,” the letter says.

The letter, sent by the ILA’s legal counsel for the Jerusalem District, also demanded a retroactive payment of NIS 17 million ($4.6 million) in usage fees.

Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Arieh King welcomed the move. “I expect the government to immediately take action to collect the fine from UNRWA and ensure the full evacuation of the property and its return to Jewish hands, according to its original purpose. There is no place for enemies in Jerusalem,” he said in a statement.

In a letter to KKL-JNF Chairperson Yifat Ovadia Luski written prior to January 14, King noted that part of the land seized by UNRWA once was home to a KKL-JNF forest called ‘Qalandiya.’

“UNRWA personnel uprooted most of the trees,” King wrote.

UNRWA’s Ties to Terrorism
Multiple countries including the United States and the United Kingdom announced this week that they are suspending their funding for the UN agency in response to clear evidence that at least a dozen of the agency’s employees in Gaza participated in the horrific October 7 invasion of Israel.

Thousands of Hamas-led terrorists tortured, mutilated, raped, burned and beheaded their victims, slaughtering more than 1,200 civilians and soldiers in more than two dozen Israeli towns and military bases along the Gaza border. The terrorists abducted more than 250 others, including many who were injured, and dragged them into Gaza captivity.

“The United States is extremely troubled by the allegations that twelve UNRWA employees may have been involved in the October 7 Hamas terrorist attack on Israel,” the US Statement Department said in a statement on Friday. “The Department of State has temporarily paused additional funding for UNRWA while we review these allegations and the steps the United Nations is taking to address them.”

UNRWA’S Response to Funding Pause
In response to the allegations, UNRWA issued this statement from Amman, Jordan:
“The Israeli Authorities have provided UNRWA with information about the alleged involvement of several UNRWA employees in the horrific attacks on Israel on 7 October.

“To protect the Agency’s ability to deliver humanitarian assistance, I have taken the decision to immediately terminate the contracts of these staff members and launch an investigation in order to establish the truth without delay. Any UNRWA employee who was involved in acts of terror will be held accountable, including through criminal prosecution.

“UNRWA reiterates its condemnation in the strongest possible terms of the abhorrent attacks of 7 October and calls for the immediate and unconditional release of all Israeli hostages and their safe return to their families.

“These shocking allegations come as more than 2 million people in Gaza depend on lifesaving assistance that the Agency has been providing since the war began. Anyone who betrays the fundamental values of the United Nations also betrays those whom we serve in Gaza, across the region and elsewhere around the world”.

UNRWA’s Terror Ties Are Not New
UNRWA — and the rest of the world, for that matter — has for years allowed, and in some cases facilitated, the teaching of a curriculum that includes incitement against the State of Israel and Jews in general, and which praises terrorism and slaughter of Israelis as a lofty goal.

“I hold here Hitler’s book ‘Mein Kampf’ in Arabic. Our fighters found this book in civilians’ homes in the Gaza Strip. They found extensive antisemitic and Nazi literature there. This is what they educate their children on,” Netanyahu told journalists at a briefing on Saturday night. Therefore, I insist that after we eliminate Hamas, what is called ‘the day after’, in Gaza there will be no element that educates its children, not only for terrorism but also for the destruction of Israel, for the destruction of the entire Jewish people.”

IDF soldiers have found Arabic-language paperback copies of Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” in numerous “civilian” homes in Gaza, along with other school-age antisemitic materials. UNRWA is responsible for the curriculum, administration and educational resources in the Gaza schools.

Earlier this week, the IDF published official letters from the Hamas military wing that were personally delivered and addressed to the head of Gaza’s Directorate of Education and Teaching in Gaza, asking that teachers be excused due to their obligations with Hamas.

Multiple letters from Hamas were found specifically asking for the release of teachers from their daily tasks “as we need him for military training on the 28/09/2023. This date is not flexible.”

The aforementioned “military training” was held 10 days prior to the invasion of Israel by 3,000 Hamas terrorists and their followers.


Previous articleWhere Am I: Humble Waterfall
Next articleGetting Your Business Into The Media
Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for, and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.