Photo Credit: IDF Spokesperson's Unit
Military vests used by the elite Hamas Nukhba commando unit were found hidden in UNRWA "wheat flour" bags in a Gaza City medical clinic.

Israel is calling on the United Nations to replace its UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) with other UN agencies providing the same services to refugees elsewhere around the world.

Speaking to UN ambassadors on Wednesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for the replacement of UNRWA because, he said, “it has been “totally infiltrated by Hamas,” adding that the UN needs to understand UNRWA’s mission must end.


“Israel wants to see humanitarian aid reach civilians in Gaza who need it, while making sure that Hamas cannot steal it,” government spokesperson Eylon Levy told reporters at a briefing Thursday afternoon.

“The Prime Minister has underscored the need for an objective and constructive body to deliver aid to civilians in Gaza. We totally reject statements from UN officials that there is no alternative to this Hamas front. This is simply poppycock,” Levy said bluntly.

“The fact is, it’s doing a terrible job at distributing aid … Our neighbors in Gaza deserve aid agencies that will serve them, and not themselves for Hamas.”

Both Richard Goldberg, Senior Advisor at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and Hillel Neuer, Executive Director
of UN Watch testified Wednesday (Jan. 31) before a subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee that the United Nations does, in fact, already have aid agencies with expertise in emergency relief in conflict zones.

“To date, however, they have been prevented from operating in Gaza because of UNWRA’s monopoly,” Levy told reporters Thursday. “These viable alternatives must be developed now so that aid can be distributed effectively and professionally, instead of being routed through an agency that is not only compromised by terrorists, but failing to do its job.”

Levy reiterated that there is excess capacity at Israel’s crossings for aid to enter Gaza; Israel has been asked to close those crossings on Saturdays so that UNWRA can catch up with the aid already inspected and approved by Israel for delivery into the enclave.

“We think it’s frankly deplorable that international actors are closing ranks to protect this failed agency instead of working to develop viable, effective and proven alternatives,” Levy said.

He advised donors wishing to help civilians in Gaza to “route aid funds earmarked for UNRWA to agencies that do not employ, collude with or cover up for terrorists.

“Those alternatives exist and it is way past time to use them.”

Israel is also calling for an “independent, in-depth and transparent” investigation into the UN agency’s conduct in the Gaza strip over the years.

“We’re confident that the results of that investigation will shock global taxpayers with revelations of how their money has financed, fueled and covered up for terrorism for decades,” Levy said.


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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.