The New Zealand Jewish Council is pleased that the Prime Minister has announced a pause in funding for UNRWA, the UN agency solely dedicated to supporting Palestinians who it defines as refugees, after reports that certain employees participated in the October 7 Hamas massacre of Israelis. In suspending funding, New Zealand joins the states of the G7, as well as Australia and several European states.
Overnight, the Wall Street Journal has published an investigation that reports that 23% of male employees of UNRWA have an active role in Hamas. Some are commanders.
UN Watch has also revealed that over 3000 UNRWA teachers in a Telegram group celebrated October 7 as the attacks were unfolding, sharing photos and video footage and praying for the terrorists’ success and Israel’s destruction. Since 2015, UN Watch has exposed over 150 UNRWA staff Facebook pages that contain antisemitism and incitement to terrorism in violation of UN neutrality
There are numerous other reports of UNRWA complicity in October 7, including its employees holding Israelis hostage in Gaza, diverting aid to Hamas, and its facilities being used to store armaments and stage attacks.
For years, the Council, along with other Jewish and non-Jewish groups, has urged MFAT to hold UNRWA to account for the curriculum taught in its schools that incites hate and terrorism, of which there is irrefutable and comprehensive evidence.
New Zealand has provided millions in funding during this war to the International Committee of the Red Cross, and the World Food Programme, who are on the ground in Gaza, and there are other UN agencies operating there too, through which New Zealand can provide humanitarian assistance to Gazans.
Ben Kepes, spokesperson for the Council, notes that: “It is clear that antisemitism and incitement to terrorism are systemic in UNRWA. As a country, we cannot reconcile continuing to fund UNRWA with combatting antisemitism and terrorism. UNRWA is part of the problem, and most certainly not part of the solution that seeks an end to hostilities and promotes peaceful co-existence between Palestinians and Israelis”.