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UN Report Demolishes Israeli Propaganda Campaign Against UNRWA

Above photo: Food aid arrives at a UNRWA school-turned-shelter in Gaza. UNRWA.

Israel has waged a multi-year campaign against the UN aid group for Palestinian refugees.

In hopes of eradicating the right of return.

Israel has failed to provide any evidence of its claims that employees of the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) are members of “terrorist organizations,” according to an independent review led by former French foreign minister Catherine Colonna.

In January, Israel claimed without evidence that some UNRWA staff – until then the primary conduit of humanitarian aid into the besieged and bombed Gaza Strip – were members of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and had participated in the Hamas-led attack on Israeli military bases and settlements on 7 October, known as Operation Al-Aqsa Flood.

The Israeli allegations promptly caused the US and other western nations to cut funding to UNRWA. This came amid reports from rights groups that Israel was using starvation as a weapon against the 2.3 million Palestinians in Gaza.

The Guardian reported on 22 April that the “Colonna report,” which was commissioned by the UN in the wake of Israeli allegations, found that UNRWA had regularly supplied Israel with lists of its employees for vetting, and that “the Israeli government has not informed UNRWA of any concerns relating to any UNRWA staff based on these staff lists since 2011.”

The Guardian added that most donor nations have resumed their funding in recent weeks. However, UK ministers had said they would wait for the Colonna report to decide whether to resume funding. The US Congress has since banned any future financial support of UNRWA.

The Colonna review was drafted with the help of three Nordic research institutes and will be published later on Monday.

It confirms that Israel has yet to provide any evidence of its claims.

It notes that in March, “Israel made public claims that a significant number of Unrwa employees are members of terrorist organizations.”

“However, Israel has yet to provide supporting evidence of this,” the report says.

The Colonna review makes clear that UNRWA is “indispensable” to Palestinians across the region.

“In the absence of a political solution between Israel and the Palestinians, UNRWA remains pivotal in providing life-saving humanitarian aid and essential social services, particularly in health and education, to Palestinian refugees in Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and the West Bank,” the review says.

“As such, UNRWA is irreplaceable and indispensable to Palestinians’ human and economic development. In addition, many view UNRWA as a humanitarian lifeline.”

The report added that “UNRWA has established a significant number of mechanisms and procedures to ensure compliance with the humanitarian principles, with emphasis on the principle of neutrality and that it possesses a more developed approach to neutrality than other similar UN or NGO entities.”

The three Nordic research institutes—the Swedish-based Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, the Norwegian Chr Michelsen Institute, and the Danish Institute for Human Rights—sent the UN a more detailed assessment of the Israeli allegations against UNRWA.

The assessment refuted Israeli claims that Palestinian children are taught antisemitic content in UNRWA-run schools, which use Palestinian Authority (PA) textbooks.

“Three international assessments of PA textbooks in recent years have provided a nuanced picture,” the assessment says. “Two identified presence of bias and antagonistic content, but did not provide evidence of antisemitic content. The third assessment, by the [German-based] Georg Eckert Institute, studied 156 PA textbooks and identified two examples that it found to display antisemitic motifs but noted that one of them had already been removed, the other has been altered.”

As The Cradle’s William Van Wagenen reported in February, Israel’s evidence-free allegations against UNRWA are part of a multi-year campaign to dismantle the agency that began before 7 October. Israel wishes to deprive Palestinian refugees of lifesaving assistance and to eradicate the notion that they will one day return to the lands they were expelled from by Zionist militias in 1948 when the state of Israel was created.

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