February 16, 2024 | Flash Brief

Top UN Aid Official Says Hamas Is Not a Terrorist Group

February 16, 2024 | Flash Brief

Top UN Aid Official Says Hamas Is Not a Terrorist Group

Latest Developments

A top United Nations (UN) official on February 14 denied that Hamas is a terrorist group. “Hamas is not a terrorist group for us … It’s a political movement,” said Martin Griffiths, the UN’s under-secretary general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator, who directs the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. In response, Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan called the United Nations “a terror-excusing, Hamas-promoting, victim-blaming organization that has lost every ounce of credibility.” Griffiths later condemned Hamas’s October 7 massacre and appeared to modify his earlier comment, saying on X, “Just to clarify: Hamas is not on the list of groups designated as terrorist organizations by the United Nations Security Council.”

Expert Analysis

“The UN doesn’t just subsidize Hamas in Gaza; it collaborates with Hamas. How is that possible? Griffiths just told us — because to the UN, Hamas is a political party, not a terrorist group. And because UNRWA is a local agency instead of a true international organization, this problem grows into an agency that freely employs Hamas members, provides material support to Hamas, and delivers aid to Hamas affiliates.” — Richard Goldberg, FDD Senior Advisor  

“Hamas has the blood of thousands of Israelis and dozens of Americans on its hands. By allowing Hamas members to be UN employees, the UN also has American and Israeli blood on its hands.” — David May, FDD Research Manager and Senior Research Analyst

Several Countries and Entities Recognize Hamas as a Terrorist Organization

White House National Security Communications Advisor John Kirby addressed Griffiths’ comments, saying, “Hamas is a terrorist organization. We’ve said so. It is. It just is. And you don’t have to look any further than what they did on the seventh of October to see it in stark terms.” Countries and entities that have designated Hamas as a terrorist group include the United States, the European Union, Canada, Japan, Australia, and Israel but not the UN.

The UN Employs Hamas Members

Because Hamas does not appear on the UN Security Council’s list of terrorist groups, the UN does not screen for membership in Hamas during its hiring process. Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on February 16 disclosed estimates that 12 percent of the Gaza-based staff of the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) — 1,468 UNRWA employees — have links to Hamas or another Palestinian terrorist group. According to Gallant, “over 30 UNRWA workers participated in the [October 7] massacre, facilitated the taking of hostages, looted and stole from Israeli communities, and more.” Gallant revealed the identities of 12 of them.

UNRWA Exposed,” by Richard Goldberg

Cut funding to organizations that are empowering Hamas,” by Bonnie Glick and Richard Goldberg

Close Down UNRWA,” by Richard Goldberg


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