Victims of the October 7 Attack Are Suing UNRWA for Skimming Aid Meant for Gaza and Diverting it to Hamas

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) has been mired in controversy almost since its inception in 1949. It was originally organized to aid the Palestinians displaced by the Israeli war for Independence. 

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However, UNRWA lost its independence decades ago and became a useful tool for Palestinian terrorists. Today, UNRWA services Hamas and other Islamic terrorists on the West Bank, killing Israeli civilians and preventing ordinary Palestinians from getting the aid they need.

UNRWA’s hands are bloody, but their top-level leadership is immune from prosecution or legal responsibility. Now, that is being challenged by about 100 Israeli citizens who are victims of Hamas attacks, including the assault on October 7 that killed 1200 people.

A suit has been filed in federal district court in Manhattan claiming that up to a billion dollars of UNRWA aid money has been siphoned off by Hamas and used in its attacks on Israelis, including October 7. 

This is no surprise to the Israeli government. But other nations who play the fool and pretend they don’t know what happens to the cash they donate to UNRWA will now be exposed in court.

If the case gets that far.

New York Times:

UNRWA has been sued several times since the attacks, with some cases claiming that the agency has abetted Hamas and others attempting to cut off UNRWA’s funding. The case filed on Monday goes further, describing how the plaintiffs believe agency money ended up in the hands of Hamas and how the terrorists used its resources in the attack on Israel.

The suit says that in Gaza, unlike other places the agency operates, UNRWA pays its 13,000 local employees in U.S. dollars that must be changed into shekels, the Israeli currency that is used in Gaza, by Hamas-affiliated money-changers who take a cut for the organization.

The civil suit faces many hurdles, particularly the question of whether a treaty affords the U.N. officials immunity. But if the case proceeds, it could allow other victims of Hamas attacks to seek damages from the U.N. Even if it fails, the suit could pressure nations donating money to UNRWA to reassess their support.

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“Hamas did not carry out these atrocities without assistance,” the complaint says. It was “aided and abetted” by top-level UNRWA officials who financed Hamas’s “terror infrastructure” for over a decade and knew that they were “providing Hamas with the U.S. dollars in cash that it needed to pay smugglers for weapons, explosives, and other terror materiel.”

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A spokeswoman for UNRWA smugly reminded reporters who asked about the suit, “The United Nations, including UNRWA, enjoys immunity from legal process, as do United Nations officials, including those serving with UNRWA.”

But only the officials serving at the highest level are immune from legal processes.

The defendants named in the suit are Philippe Lazzarini, commissioner-general of UNRWA; Pierre Krähenbühl, the agency’s former head, who is now at the International Red Cross; Leni Stenseth, Sandra Mitchell and Margot Ellis, who are former deputy commissioners-general; Greta Gunnarsdottir, director of the agency’s office in New York; and Filippo Grandi, the U.N. high commissioner for refugees.

It’s a legal tangle that will be litigated for years. But at the very least, it might give pause to other Western donor countries who might not appreciate the money they give to an aid organization going to pay for operations that murder women, children, and infants.

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