The Lawfare Project expresses its deep concern at UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s failure to acknowledge a UN agency’s complicity in Hamas war crimes carried out against Palestinian children. Last week, Ban spoke at a summit in Costa Rica, following the shelling of an UNRWA school in the Gaza Strip’s Jabalia Camp. During his address, the Secretary-General callously neglected to condemn UNRWA, which, together with Hamas, is directly targeting Palestinian children with reprehensible violence.
UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East) is the arm of the UN responsible for providing education to Palestinian children in Gaza. It is funded overwhelmingly by U.S. taxpayer dollars. Both prior to and during the current war in Gaza, UNRWA schools have been found to be working with Hamas in order to facilitate the recruitment of Palestinian children as child soldiers and human shields. The Lawfare Project, together with the Center for Near East Policy Research, co-produced the documentary film Camp Jihad, screened for U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, which presents first-hand evidence of UNRWA schools being used to illegally indoctrinate Palestinian children towards violence.
No crime is more abhorrent than the premeditated murder of innocent children. Curiously, Ban has not once condemned Hamas by name–a designated terrorist group in the United States, Canada, European Union, Japan, and elsewhere–for its use of UNRWA schools as rocket depots and of UNRWA staff and students as human shields. Nor has he ever condemned UNRWA for enabling Hamas’s recruitment of Palestinian children as child soldiers and suicide bombers.
The Lawfare Project urges Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to carefully consider the following widely reported facts about UNRWA:
- UNRWA has been caught three times during Operation Protective Edge storing Hamas rockets. Roughly ten percent of all Hamas rockets fired indiscriminately at Israeli civilians have fallen short, causing damage in Palestinian civilian areas in Gaza.
- UNRWA confirmed that Hamas fired into the Beit Hanoun area in northern Gaza where, on July 24, 2014, an UNRWA school was hit. An estimated 17 children and UN personnel were killed, and 200 others wounded.
- UNRWA has publicly admitted to handing rockets stored in its facilities over to the “local authorities” in Gaza, i.e., Hamas.
- UNRWA has publicly admitted to hiring Hamas (and Islamic Jihad) terrorists as teachers at its schools, thereby providing direct access for Hamas to recruit Palestinian children.
- UNRWA schools have reportedly been used as launching pads for mortar attacks against Israeli civilians.
- A senior UN official, John Ging, confirmed that Hamas terrorists “are firing their rockets into Israel from the vicinity of UN facilities and residential areas,” thereby putting UNRWA staff and students in harm’s way and using civilians in Gaza as human shields.
- UNRWA has permitted Hamas to use its schools as grounds for the recruitment and training of child soldiers and suicide bombers, and for the operation of militant summer camps for children.
- UNRWA has openly taught Palestinian children from a curriculum that incites violence, encourages suicide-homicide bombings, espouses the concepts of martyrdom and jihad, and calls for the destruction of Israel.
- An UNRWA health clinic that housed a Hamas terror tunnel entry shaft was built with explosives in its walls. The booby-trapped UNRWA clinic was then detonated on July 30, 2014, killing three IDF soldiers. The soldiers were working inside the UNRWA clinic to examine its structural integrity before sealing the Hamas tunnel under the building. Additionally, Hamas officials have reportedly admitted that, as of December 2011, at least 160 children had been killed in the tunnels. (Update: The booby-trapped building was reported to be an UNRWA clinic, but other reports have stated that the building was a former International Committee of the Red Cross clinic.)
UNRWA is aiding and abetting the premeditated murder of Palestinian children, the very population the agency is mandated to protect. It is inconceivable that UNRWA officials and staff members were unaware of the Hamas terror tunnel’s entrance located within its own clinic. Or of multiple caches of deadly rockets located within three of its own schools. Or that, by handing over rockets to Hamas, they would subsequently be used to target civilians. Indeed, UNRWA officials and staff members are complicit in war crimes while teaching impressionable Palestinian children from a curriculum that not only glorifies violence but exposes them directly to Hamas for recruitment.