Monday, February 2, 2009

UNRWA - the problem, not the solution

In the recent conflict between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East) came to our attention when the IDF struck an UN school after Hamas terrorists hiding amongst the civilians seeking shelter in the school fired mortars at Israeli forces. 

According a report I read, the Hamas dudes had been holding the women and children in the school hostage - what a surprise, terrorists using human shields against Israel!

There is precedent for Hamas doing this. Look at this video from October 2007 of terrorists launching mortars from a UN school. 

On the other hand, UNWRA's man in charge in Gaza declared that there is no evidence of Hamas using his school to hide, or do any other of the shady/scandalous/terroristy things that they do. 

If that's what Mr. UNWRA has to say, then it's obviously true. 

Of course, Israel was not attacked by terrorists from the school because how could bad guys be hiding in an UN area - the UN is not biased and does not overwhelmingly support one side in this conflict right? And as the video you see above, they've never done it before...

Ok, well, what exactly is UNRWA? 

Established by the United Nations in December 1949, their aim is "to carry out direct relief and works programmes for Palestine refugees." Furthermore,  "In the absence of a solution to the Palestine refugee problem, the General Assembly has repeatedly renewed UNRWA's mandate, most recently extending it until 30 June 2011" (

The description on the founding of the group reads (

"UNRWA is unique in terms of its long-standing commitment to one group of refugees and its contributions to the welfare and human development of four generations of Palestine refugees."

Four generations of Palestinian refugees...Are you kidding me?!?! Over sixty years later, and children being born today in Gaza are still classified as refugees? Their families have been living there for four generations! 

Why shouldn't they be classified as refugees? Well, let's take a look at how other UN agencies classify refugees. 

"Unlike the U.N. High Commission for Refugees, which deals with the rest of the world's refugees and aims to settle them in their respective host countries, UNRWA perpetuates the Palestinian problem by classifying as refugees not only those who originally fled their homes, but all of their descendents as well," says Gunnar Heinsohn in his recent Wall Street Journal op-ed piece on UNRWA's perpetuation of the Palestinian refugee problem (

Check out the U.N High Commission for Refugees definition of refugee status -

UNRWA has never tried to encourage the development of the Palestinian economy or civil society. How do I know this? Look at these simple facts posted on the UNWRA website.

- 750,000 Gazans rely on UNRWA Food Aid

- 200,000 children attend 221 UNRWA schools throughout Gaza. 

Half of Gaza relies on the U.N. Yikes! What if the U.N actually tried to help Gaza develop its economy and society? I got an idea of how they can do that. 

Why doesn't UNRWA say that by the end of the year, it will begin to slowly end its aid for those newborns in the Gaza Strip, and stop classifying the fourth generation as refugees. This would eventually ween the Palestinian population from relying on aid. They could even coordinate with the Gazan government to encourage civil society and economic development. Maybe they could even pressure those in charge a little bit to invest in infrastructure, the economy, you know, jobs for their people, instead of rockets, booby trapping their neighborhoods, and building tunnels to smuggle really bad stuff from really bad people in Iran.  

Oh wait, who's in charge? Right, a terrorist organization. Crud! UNRWA sees it fit to make the problem worse in Gaza. Let's see how they do this.

As Heinsohn explains, "Gazan teenagers have no future other than war. One rocket master killed is immediately replaced by three young men for whom a martyr's death is no less honorable than victory. Some 230,000 Gazan males, aged 15 to 29, who are available for the battlefield now, will be succeeded by 360,000 boys under 15 (45% of all Gazan males) who could be taking up arms within the coming 15 years...The reason for Gaza's endless youth bulge is that a large majority of its population does not have to provide for its offspring. Most babies are fed, clothed, vaccinated and educated by UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East."

And what are these youth doing? They fight. If they're not launching rockets at Israel, they're killing each other. Remember, it was only two years ago when Hamas took over the Gaza Strip in a bloody coup against their "pragmatic" Fatah rivals, 300 Palestinian dead and 1,000 wounded later.

In short, because these men have no reason to get a job because they're given everything by the UN, they have nothing else to do, so what's better than guns, rockets, more guns, and well...more rockets. 

I guess in Gaza they have a different reason why there are no jobs. 

In America and the rest of the world, this thing called the financial crisis has been kind of messing things up. 

But in Gaza, well they got the United Nations making sure young men are jobless, rely on "food stamps" and turn to terrorism as a means to salvation. 

Good going guys, keep up the good work!

Keep ruining hopes for peace for many generations to come! 


j said...

I am glad you wrote that.

Kat said...

Hey, this is Katrina from Wed. nights class. You bring up some good points about the UN, and I like your blog a lot. I don't think you make this argument very clear - you're saying that take away refugee status, coupled with the reduction of international aid, would make people LESS likely to fire rockets? How will taking away their main source of livelihood make them less likely to seek irrational means to ameliorate their situation? I agree that the economy (as well as pretty much everything else that could fall under the category of 'infastructure' in Gaza) should be reconstructed, but wouldn't that be accomplished by the lifting of the blockade rather than impoverishing Gaza further? I think you are leaving out the major role that Israel has to play in this reconstruction. Any thoughts?

Benji said...

The problem is the very fact that half of Gaza is still considered refugees, and their livelihood depends on UNRWA. With this situation, the Strip's reliance on UNRWA, and their compliance in perpetuating this situation, there is no hope for any development of Palestinian civil society. Israel left the Gaza Strip in 2005, with the hope the PA would develop the economy left by Israel. What happened? The green houses and agricultural areas were destroyed, and used to launch terrorist attacks against Israel. Why aren't Palestinian leaders held accountable for the situation in Gaza? They receive billions in aid, and they continue to be committed to terror. Hamas, elected to head the Palestinian parliament, refuses to recognize Israel's right to exist, and is committed to its destruction. The point I was trying to make is that UNRWA is only hurting the Palestinian people, but even if UNRWA pressured the leaders of Gaza to do something to change the situation on the ground in Gaza - what would happen? Hamas would welcome the suffering of its own people because it helps its own plight of its war against Israel. Israel gave the Palestinians a chance to develop the potential for a state in Gaza, and eventually in the West Bank. And instead, they chose terror. And unfortunately, with what UNRWA is doing today, they are only hurting the chances for peace even more. So, in short, what I said was eventual taking away refugee status and slowly reducing aid would put pressure on their leaders to finally be accountable for their responsibility in deteriorating Palestinian society and economy. But the main problem is their leaders are ruthless terrorists committed to Israel's destruction, and willing to bring down their own people on the way to achieving that goal. It's quite a shame that the world doesn't understand either facets - UNRWA's perpetuation of and Hamas' responsibility for the deterioration of Gaza. Last thing, if Hamas ended its commitment to terror, recognized Israel's right to exist and prior agreements, there would not be a blockade (even though Israel lets in 200 humanitarian aid trucks daily while they're constantly attacked by terrorists), and Hamas would be welcomed into the community of nations, and Gaza would not look how it is today. But no, they choose terror and destruction. The onus is on them.

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