February 23, 2024 | Flash Brief

Israel Sidesteps UNRWA to Deliver Gaza Aid Via WFP

February 23, 2024 | Flash Brief

Israel Sidesteps UNRWA to Deliver Gaza Aid Via WFP

Latest Developments

Israel will sidestep the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) by allowing a substantial flour delivery to reach Gaza through the UN World Food Programme (WFP) instead, a U.S. official told The Times of Israel on February 23. The American shipment of flour, passing through Israel, could feed 1.5 million Gazans for five months.

The United States delivered the flour to Israel’s Ashdod Port in January for transfer to UNRWA before arriving in Gaza. Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich blocked the aid’s transfer due to credible allegations of UNRWA’s ties to Hamas and participation in the brutal October 7 massacre. Smotrich directed Israel’s customs service to identify an alternative distributor because UNRWA is a “central part” of the “Hamas war machine,” he said. WFP, a U.S.-led UN body directed by Cindy McCain and overseen by 36 UN member states, delivers food assistance in emergencies.

Expert Analysis

“The notion that UNRWA is somehow irreplaceable is absurd. Delivering food aid through the World Food Programme is what we typically do around the globe, without institutional collaboration with a foreign terrorist organization. Controls are still needed to prevent Hamas’s diversion of aid, but the WFP’s reputation is a lot better than UNRWA’s.” — Richard Goldberg, FDD Senior Advisor

“Israel is taking the correct steps in seeking an alternative body that can provide humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip. This action should not have been necessary, but it is clear that terrorist organizations have infiltrated UNRWA. It cannot be trusted as a competent body to ensure aid reaches those in the Gaza Strip who need it the most.” — Joe Truzman, Senior Research Analyst at FDD’s Long War Journal

UNRWA Enables Hamas

Israel believes that 12 percent of UNRWA’s 13,000 employees in Gaza are affiliated with Hamas or Palestinian Islamic Jihad. On January 26, UNRWA terminated the contracts of 12 staff members who allegedly participated in Hamas’s October 7 massacre. About a dozen countries have suspended funding to the agency. UNRWA again came under fire when Israeli forces uncovered a Hamas data center and intelligence hub housed underneath UNRWA’s Gaza City headquarters on February 12.

Israel Delivering Record Amounts of Aid to Gaza

Israel has facilitated the transfer of 13,834 humanitarian aid trucks into Gaza since the war began. These deliveries include 167,080 tons of food, 23,220 tons of water, 27,720 tons of shelter equipment, 17,710 tons of medical supplies, 162 tanks of fuel, and 282 tanks of cooking gas. Israel has rejected complaints from international agencies about the allegedly low volume of aid reaching Gaza. Israel’s Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories agency, which facilitates aid to Gaza, states on its website that “Israel’s war is not with the civilian population in the Gaza Strip.”

Hamas Data Center Found Under UNRWA Headquarters,” FDD Flash Brief

Israel Facilitates Record Aid to Gaza,” FDD Flash Brief

Israel Arrests Eight UNRWA Employees Over Ties to Hamas,” FDD Flash Brief


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