January 26, 2024 | Flash Brief

U.S. Pauses Funding to UNRWA

January 26, 2024 | Flash Brief

U.S. Pauses Funding to UNRWA

Latest Developments

The State Department announced on January 26 that it will temporarily pause funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). The aid may resume pending the results of a U.S. investigation into allegations that 12 UNRWA employees participated in Hamas’s October 7 attack on Israel. Earlier the same day, UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini said the agency had immediately terminated the contracts of staff members who allegedly participated in the attacks, citing information provided by Israeli intelligence. A spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that Guterres was “horrified” by the news and called for Lazzarini to conduct an investigation and prosecute offenders.

Expert Analysis

“Just ahead of a major congressional inquiry and potential legislative initiative to prohibit funding for UNRWA in law, the timing of this pause is no coincidence. Temporary pauses in aid to UNRWA are not the answer — wholesale change and outright prohibition on further assistance are required.” Richard Goldberg, FDD Senior Advisor

“U.S. taxpayer dollars helped cover the paychecks for some of the perpetrators of the worst massacre of Jews since the Holocaust. This should convince the United States and Western allies to scrap UNRWA and transfer its responsibilities to organizations with accountability. Support for terrorism among UNRWA employees isn’t a bug; it’s a feature.”David May, FDD Research Manager and Senior Research Analyst

Mounting Evidence Against UNRWA

A senior Israeli official told Axios that the Shin Bet and Israeli military intelligence provided the UN with information that UNRWA staffers used UNRWA vehicles and buildings to perpetrate the October 7 attacks. Israel gathered the evidence during interrogations of captured Palestinian terrorists. Earlier in January, the watchdog group UN Watch revealed a Telegram group of 3,000 UNRWA teachers in Gaza celebrating the October 7 massacre and praying for the success of the terrorists.

UNRWA Aids Terrorist Groups

UNRWA has long supported Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist groups. Since Israeli forces began ground operations in Gaza in late October, they have found Hamas tunnels or stores of rockets in or near UNRWA schools. IMPACT-se, an international research organization that monitors and analyzes education around the world, has found copious evidence of antisemitic indoctrination of children at UNRWA schools.

U.S. Biggest Funder of UNRWA

Between 1950 and 2018, U.S. taxpayers contributed about $6 billion to UNRWA. In September 2018, the Trump administration cut funding to the agency, calling it “irredeemably flawed.” President Joe Biden unconditionally resumed funding UNRWA in 2021, delivering $1 billion over three years, making the United States once again UNRWA’s single largest donor.

10 Things to Know About the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA),” FDD Insight

UNRWA Teachers Glorify Terrorism in Group Chat,” FDD Flash Brief

United Nations’ Bigotry Towards Israel: UNRWA Anti-semitism Poisons Palestinian Youth,” Congressional Testimony by Jonathan Schanzer

Hamas Terror Tunnel Next to UNRWA School in Gaza Destroyed,” FDD Flash Brief


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