Monday, January 26, 2009
The Connection between UNRWA and the Palestinian Terror Organizations in the Gaza Strip
Lt. Col. (res.) Jonathan D. Halevi | Gaza
In recent years a vast amount of information has accumulated regarding the gradual takeover of UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency), the UN relief agency for the Palestinian refugees, by Hamas and other Palestinian terror organizations. Awad al-Kik, a teacher at the UNRWA school, who served simultaneously as the head of the engineering and weapons manufacture unit of Islamic Jihad serves as a prominent example.It has long been known that UNRWA and the Palestinian leadership are contributing to the perpetuation of the refugee problem and the attendant misery of the refugees. It has been noted that despite the fact that Israel in August 2005 retreated from the Gaza strip, the Palestinian Authority, and presently the Hamas government, did not lift a finger to rehabilitate the Palestinian refugee camps.
The reverse is true: the Palestinian leadership made it crystal clear that the government of the Palestinian Authority would not settle the refugees in the areas of the settlements that had been evacuated. This was done so in order to preserve their "right of return".
This argument is completely disingenuous, because an amelioration of the refugees' conditions does not weaken the demand for return or compensation in any shape or manner. It would appear that the interests of the Hamas government and UNRWA dovetail on this matter, namely preventing the dismantlement of the refugee camps, despite the severe privation existing there that promotes extremism, in order to nurture the dream of a return to Palestine, which means Israel.
In recent years a vast amount of information has accumulated regarding the gradual takeover of UNRWA by Hamas and other Palestinian terror organizations. In elections for the UNRWA employees Association on June 14, 2006, Hamas representatives won a resounding victory. Hamas took all 11 seats on the Association allotted to representatives of the 7000 teachers in UNRRA, all 9 of the seats allotted the service sector in UNRWA (physicians, engineers, pharmacists and nurses) and 3 out of the 7 seats allotted the balance of UNRWA employees.
Following the military coup during which Hamas seized power in the Gaza strip (June 2007), there were reports, including from Palestinian human rights organizations, to the effect that armed forces of the Hamas government had taken over institutions belonging to UNRWA in the Gaza Strip and had even housed forces of the Al-Qassam, Brigades, the Hamas military wing, in some of the buildings. Parents of students learning in the UNRWA schools sent a letter to a senior official in UNRWA where they claimed that thousands of teachers belonging to the Al-Qassam brigades were teaching in a UN agency's school. They demanded that an emergency investigation be conducted on the matter.
One of the striking examples illustrating that UNRWA has become a hospitable organisation for Palestinian terror organisations was unveiled during the attack by the Israeli Air Force that targeted a weapons manufacture workshop in Rafah. Among those Killed in the attack was Awad al-Kik (Abu Mohammed), a teacher, educator and UNRRA school principal in Rafah who simultaneously served as the head of Islamic Jihad's engineering and weapons manufacture unit in the southern Gaza strip.
Al-Kik was born in the Jebalya refugee camp and lived in the Rafah refugee camp. He studied at UNRWA schools and excelled in chemistry and physics. After he had completed his academic studies at Al-Azhar University, Al-Kik began a teaching career at the UNRWA schools and rapidly ascended the professional ladder. At a relatively young age he was appointed vice principal of the Ibn Sina elementary school and was subsequently chosen by UNRWA to serve as principal of junior high school "E" until he was killed in an Israeli air force attack.
Already as a high school student, al-Kik joined Islamic Jihad and was active in the high school and college Islamic Jihad student's organization (Al-Jamaa Al-Islamiyya). He subsequently joined the Jerusalem Squads, the military wing of the organization.
Al-Kik's technological training was fully exploited in the framework of his activity. Al-Kik was one of the senior operatives in charge of manufacturing and developing rockets for Islamic Jihad, preparing explosive charges and war materiel as well as training generations of "engineers" on the basis of the knowledge that he had accumulated.
In the summer of 2006 al-Kik visited China where he displayed an interest in light aircraft, possibly for the purpose of purchase/manufacture in order to commit a terror attack against Israel.
Al-Kik's activity in the realm of terror was exposed in September 2007, when he escaped an Israeli assassination attempt. Nevertheless, he continued to serve as a teacher, educator and school principal for UNRWA and involved in educating children and youths in summer camps. It is not clear why after his terror activity had been exposed UNRWA refrained from sacking him from any educational and teaching post at its institutions.
There is little justification for UNRWA's existence if the organization views its entire purpose as preserving the misery of the refugees in the camps. However beyond this the affair of the "terrorist educator" and the Hamas takeover of the UNRWA institutions and work staff should trigger a "warning light" with regard to the possibility that funds transferred to UNRWA by the donor states (including the United States and Canada) find their way to financing the salaries of Hamas and Islamic Jihad activists.
This matter requires an urgent investigation, and in any case, UNRWA would be well advised to channel hundreds of millions of dollars from its budget to clear out the refugee camps and rehabilitate their inhabitants in new and more spacious towns. The donor states should pose this as a preliminary condition to their continued assistance to UNRWA.