April 23, 2024 | Flash Brief

Israel Calls UN Investigation into UNRWA ‘Insufficient’  

April 23, 2024 | Flash Brief

Israel Calls UN Investigation into UNRWA ‘Insufficient’  

Latest Developments

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) on April 22 released the final report by investigators charged with reviewing the agency’s “neutrality” in light of Israel’s allegations that UNRWA employees participated in Hamas’s October 7 massacre. The report dismissed the allegations. The Israeli Foreign Ministry called the report “insufficient” because it “ignores the severity of the problem” and only “offers cosmetic fixes.”

While the United Nations asserted that UNRWA has “extensive tools in place to ensure it remains unbiased in its work,” this appears at odds with at least some of the report’s findings. For instance, the report determined that UNRWA’s employee verification process is insufficient and that the organization does not have the necessary information to ensure comprehensive and efficient vetting. The report also observed numerous persistent “neutrality” problems within UNRWA. For example, its staff have publicly expressed political views, and the organization uses educational material that includes anti-Israel content.

Former French Foreign Affairs Minister Catherine Colonna, who led the group working on the report since February, offered 50 recommendations, mostly highlighting bureaucratic reforms such as creating a neutrality working group or improving staff training. On April 22, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres accepted the report’s recommendations and called for donors to support UNRWA.

Expert Analysis

“The UN’s corruption and terror finance problems are on full display — and they go straight to the top. Democracies that care about the integrity of international organizations must not allow the UN to play this dangerous game. Now is the time to expedite plans to leave UNRWA in the dustbin of history and move forward with a new terror-free paradigm.” — Richard Goldberg, FDD Senior Advisor

“The report issued today is part of a concerted effort by the UN system to downplay and dismiss UNRWA’s egregious complicity in the October 7 massacre. The report recommends largely cosmetic changes to the agency while overlooking UNRWA’s deeper structural and bureaucratic rot. Thankfully, Congress sees past this whitewash. Its ban on U.S. funding for UNRWA extends through March 2025. An independent investigation, free from the UN’s influence, is urgently needed to uncover the full scope of UNRWA’s transgressions.” — Nick Stewart, Senior Director of Government Relations at FDD Action

UNRWA Has Turned a Blind Eye to Systemic Terrorist Activities

Israel has said that more than 2,135 UNRWA employees are members of Hamas and Islamic Jihad and 20 percent of UNRWA school principals are “Hamas activists.” Israeli intelligence, recently given to the Canadian government, reveals that “Hamas is deeply and systematically embedded in UNRWA.” For example, Hafez Mousa Mousa, a UNRWA school principal whom Israel believes is a member of Hamas’s Al-Qassam Brigades, allegedly closed his UNRWA school on October 7 as he rallied fellow Hamas operatives to prepare for the attack. UNRWA does not recognize U.S.-designated terrorist groups, such as Hamas and Palestine Islamic Jihad, as terrorist entities.

Some UNRWA Funding Resumes, Despite U.S. Ban,” FDD Flash Brief

More Than 450 UNRWA Staff Are Terrorists, Israel Says,” FDD Flash Brief

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


International Organizations Israel Israel at War