On April 12, 2017 during a visit to Ottawa, Malala Yousafzai – activist, Nobel Prize winner and survivor of a brutal Taliban attack – will receive an honorary Canadian citizenship and will become the youngest person to address the Canadian Parliament.
In an April 3, 2017 press release, Prime Minister Trudeau wrote that “Ms. Yousafzai’s courageous response to those who threatened her life and her advocacy for girls’ education has inspired many millions of people around the world. Her story is one of determination and dignity and Canada is proud to call her an honorary citizen of this great country”.
Yousafzai, who is an active supporter of the Syrian refugees, has raised funds for a Syrian all-girls school in Lebanon and currently funds programs in Zaàtari and Azraq refugee camps in Jordan.
In 2014, Yousafzai announced that she is donating US$50,000, which she received as prize money when she was awarded World’s Children Prize, to rebuild a Gaza school run by United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).
In her remarks, Yousafzai explained that she is donating the money to UNRWA “which is performing heroic work to serve children in Gaza, in very difficult circumstances. The funding will help rebuild 83 schools damaged during the recent conflict. Innocent Palestinian children have suffered terribly and for too long. We must all work to ensure Palestinian boys and girls, and all children everywhere, receive a quality education in a safe environment.”
As soon the announcement was made, noted Palestinian human rights activist Bassem Eid implored Malala to prevent the funds from falling into the hands of Hamas. In an open letter Eid warned the young Pakistani laureate that if she sends the funds through UNRWA, “Palestinian refugee children will never benefit from it, because UNRWA funds in Gaza wind up in the hands of radical Islam.”
According to Eid, more than 90% of UNRWA employees are Hamas supporters who groom young children to become “martyrs” and brainwash them on the unachievable “right of return” to Arab villages from before 1948 that no longer exist.
In a March 23, 2015 press release, UNRWA confirmed that, thanks to Yousafzai’s donation, a school in Khan Younis (Khuza’a Elementary Co-ed A&B School) was refurbished and reopened after it was allegedly damaged in July of 2014 during the fighting between the Israeli Defense Forces and a coalition of terrorist organizations.
UNRWA schools and facilities used by terrorist groups for military purposes
David Bedein, who heads the Center for Near East Policy Research and who has done extensive research on UNRWA, warns that terrorist groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad operate in UNRWA facilities in the Gaza Strip, and this fact should set off alarms for donor countries, including Canada.
In July and August of 2014, at the height of Operation Protective Edge, overwhelming evidence linking Palestinian terrorist organizations to UNRWA has surfaced, including:
- 11 mortar shells fired by terrorists on August 2 from the vicinity of an UNRWA school in the Zeitoun neighborhood in Gaza and UNRWA facilities (clinic and distribution center) in Jebalya.
- A rocket launch pad was documented in the vicinity of al-Mahtal Hotel in the al-Shati refugee camp on August 1. The UN sign was clearly seen on the roof of the building.
- IDF forces uncovered an attack tunnel on July 30 which was reportedly dug from inside an UNRWA health clinic in the area of al-Farahin in east Khan Younis. During IDF searches, Hamas operatives detonated 12 explosive charges planted inside the building, killing 3 Israeli soldiers.
- Palestinian terrorists fired mortar shells and anti tank rockets from the vicinity of an UNRWA school and from inside it, causing the death of an Israeli soldier on July 25.
- IDF Spokesperson reported on July 24 that “in recent days” Hamas launched rockets from the area of Beit Hanoun where an UNRWA shelter is located.
- On at least three separate occasions (July 17, July 22 and July 30), UNRWA itself reported that rockets were discovered inside a vacant UNRWA school in Gaza, but did not specify the name of the schools, the type of the rockets and to which organization the rockets were transferred.
- IDF Spokesperson reported on July 26 that IDF forces discovered in an attack tunnel equipment belonging to UNRWA, including flour bags bearing the UNRWA logo, which were used by Hamas to conceal the removal of the sand during the digging operation.
Textbooks in UNRWA schools educate towards jihad against Israel
A comprehensive examination of textbooks used in UNRWA schools by Dr. Arnon Gross found that there the books included content which adheres to the so-called “right of return” of Palestinian refugees and their descendants to the State of Israel, and even encourages a violent struggle against Israel, and some school curricula include learning songs which emphasize the violent return of refugees and mentions the term “jihad” by presenting the violent struggle as a means to “liberate Palestine” and by glorifying martyrdom as a noble death that one should strive for.
As well, these books include expressions of hatred against Jews and Israel that are reflected through literary passages, including dehumanization and demonization, as well as claims that do away with the Israeli and Jewish presence in Israel using false information. This is done by presenting Palestine, and not Israel, as one of the countries of the Levant, by failing to mention the six million Jews who reside in Israel (as opposed to mentions of Israeli Arabs) among the legitimate inhabitants of the country, presenting Jewish holy places as Muslim holy sites that were “stolen” by the Jews and removing the Hebrew language from a stamp used during the British Mandate.
A recent 130 page report called “Poisoning Palestinian Children: A Report on UNRWA Teachers’ Incitement to Jihadist Terrorism and Anti-Semitism” published by UN Watch, an independent NGO which monitors the United Nations, reveals more than 40 Facebook pages operated by school teachers, principals and other employees of UNRWA which incite to terrorism and anti-Semitism. The new cases are in addition to 30 cases of incitement previously published by UN Watch in 2015.
Canada’s $25 million a year donation to HAMAS was resumed by the Trudeau government in 2016 after a 6 year pause by the Harper government which cut the funding over alleged links to Hamas, designated as a terrorist organization by the Canadian government.
Examples of incitement in the new report include UNRWA teachers and staffers celebrating the terrorist kidnapping of Israeli teenagers, cheering rockets being fired at Israeli civilian centers, endorsing various forms of violence, erasing Israel from the map, praising Hitler and posting overtly anti-Semitic videos, caricatures, and statements.
According to UN Watch, incitement by UNRWA employees constitutes a violation of their legal obligations, including breach of neutrality, breach of undertaking to reject racism, failure to implement social media training, failure to discipline teachers who incite terrorism and anti-Semitism, and violation of internal UN policies on impartiality.
Last November, UN Watch sent Prime Minister Trudeau the names of UNRWA staffers and links to their Facebook pages showing posts that glorify Hitler. “The core issue is not what UNRWA teachers reveal online, but the fact that racists are being hired in the first place to teach children,” said Canadian-born executive director of UN Watch Hillel Neuer at that time. “We’re not calling merely for hateful posts to be removed—we’re calling for every antisemitic teacher to be fired, and for the senior UNRWA officials who keep recruiting them to be fired too.”
“Because UNRWA is turning a blind eye to incitement that is pervasive and systematic, and which abuses the hearts and minds of vulnerable Palestinian children, we call on Prime Minister Trudeau to support an independent and international commission of inquiry, to investigate the culture of impunity for perpetrators of racism and incitement that pervades UNRWA,” Neuer added.
Before any further funds are released to UNRWA, UN Watch urged all foreign donors, including Canada, to demand that UNRWA adopts a zero tolerance policy for employees who incite racism or murder by immediately terminating them and prominently post on its website all actions it is taking to weed out anti-Semitic and pro-terror conduct by UN staff.
Hamas attacks UNRWA for planning to introduce changes in the curriculum
Hamas recently attacked UNRWA for its intention to introduce changes in the curriculum of the lower grades of elementary schools in the Gaza Strip operated by the agency. Hamas claimed the proposed changes served Israel and were intended to have a negative effect on the national identity of young Palestinians. In several refugee camps, “popular” protests were held against UNRWA. One was also held near UNRWA headquarters in the Gaza Strip during events marking Land Day on March 30, 2017.
During the protest near UNRWA headquarters, calls were heard to reinstate Dr. Suhail al-Hindi, who was suspended by UNRWA after he was elected to Hamas’ new political bureau in the Gaza Strip. Minister of education Sabri Sidam and the Palestinian ministry of education in Ramallah stated their objection to any change UNRWA might make in its curriculum. They said that in accordance with international law, UNRWA had to use the curriculum of the host country [in this case, of the Palestinian Authority (PA)].
In the past, UNRWA has made attempts to introduce changes to its school curricula, without much success. According to The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Centre, the reasons for the failure were threefold: firstly, Hamas is a sovereign ruler of the Gaza Strip and controls the entire educational system; secondly, Hamas’ rejection of changes in textbooks is supported by the PA’s ministry of education and, finally, informal education is controlled by teachers and school principals, most of whom support Hamas (Excepts from Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center’s report. To read the report in its entirety click HERE).
What is UNRWA?
UNRWA was set up by the United Nations in 1949 as a temporary agency whose mandate was to help resettle approximately 750,000 Palestinian Arab refugees who were displaced after the founding of the modern State of Israel. UNRWA, which has continued to stretch its “temporary” existence for 68 years, is the only refugee organization in the world that deals with a specific people (Palestinians). All non-Palestinian refugees are taken care of by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees.
In addition, Palestinian refugees are unique in that they can pass their refugee status on to subsequent generations ad infinitum. Therefore, a second and third generation Canadian national of Palestinian descent will be eligible to claim Palestinian refugee status.
According to UNRWA “there are now 6 million Palestinian refugees”, and in contrast to all other refugee populations, which have diminished in number as people are being resettled in their host countries, the number of Palestinian “refugee” population has ballooned sevenfold.
UNRWA is also the largest UN organization whose staff stands at 30,000, or 3.5 times the number of employees the rest of the world gets for actual refugees. Almost every UNRWA worker is a Palestinian and the few non-Palestinians who occupy senior positions and act as the face of the organization mask the reality that the organization is simply an employment agency for Palestinians that runs schools and medical facilities in Gaza, West Bank, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan with a biennial budget of over $2 billion.
Hamas’ de facto takeover of UNRWA institutions in the Gaza Strip
The UNRWA workers union has been controlled in practice by Hamas for many years. The “Professional List”, headed by senior Hamas activist Suheil Al-Hindi, won a landslide victory in the elections for the UNRWA’s workers union held in September 2012.
In the elections, in which nearly 11,500 employees of UNRWA voted, the “Professional List” which is affiliated with Hamas won all 11 seats allocated to the teachers’ sector, 6 of 7 seats in the employees’ sector, and 8 out of 9 seats in the service sector.
The “Al-Karama (Honor) List”, affiliated with the Islamic Jihad organization, also participated in the elections, whereas the Fatah movement chose to boycott them, claiming that Hamas controls the UNRWA workers union and limits its activities.
The bloc affiliated with Hamas also won the previous election for the UNRWA’s workers union by an overwhelming majority. Lists affiliated with Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the PLO (uniting representatives of the PFLP, Fatah and the People’s Party) and the independents took part in the 2009 elections. 17 representatives of Hamas (63%), four from the PFLP, four from Fatah, one from the People’s Party and one from the independents were elected to the union, which includes 27 members.
Members of terrorist groups who were employed by UNRWA
Suheil Al-Hindi – Al-Hindi, who in the past also headed the teachers’ sector at UNRWA, does not hide his affinity for the Hamas organization and takes part in overt political activities as its representative. In his capacity and as a supervisor of student summer camps, al-Hindi has a tremendous impact on the UNRWA education system and the contents taught in it.
In July 2001, al-Hindi attended a ceremony at a school at the Jabaliya refugee camp along with Hamas leader Ahmed Yassin. In his address to outstanding students, he spoke in praise of suicide bombers who graduated from the Palestinian educational system and explained that “the road to Palestine passes through the blood of martyrs. The student martyrs shape history through their (exploding) their body parts”.
UNRWA’s management is well aware, at least since 2004, of the fact that Suheil al-Hindi, who headed the UNRWA teachers sector, is a senior Hamas activist who supports jihad against Israel and suicide bombings. UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness officially acknowledged this in an article posted on Ynet on January 27, 2009, in which he referred to an article exposing the activities of Hamas in UNRWA schools. Nevertheless, Suheil al-Hindi continued to be employed by UNRWA, which chose to ignore the reports in the media about his being a senior Hamas activist.
According to recent media reports, Al-Hindi was recently elected to a member of Hamas political bureau. Al-Hindi denied these reports. International mounting pressures led UNRWA to fire al-Hindi in March 2017.
Issa Abd al-Hadi al-Batran – Al-Batran was born in 1973 in the al-Bureij refugee camp in Gaza. He studied at UNRWA’s elementary and middle schools, at the Khaled al-Hassan high school, the Gaza Training Center (UNRWA) and the al-Quds Open University. For years al-Batran was employed as a teacher in UNRWA’s schools in the central district of the Gaza Strip even though UNRWA heads were aware of the fact that he serves in a senior role in the Al-Qassam Brigades and was several times a target for assassination by the IDF. He was eventually fired from UNRWA in 2009, after he was seriously wounded in a work accident as part of his activities in the Al-Qassam Brigades.
Awad Al-Qiq – An Israeli airstrike on a workshop for the manufacturing of weapons in Rafah on April 30, 2008, killed Awad Al-Qiq, a teacher, educator and principal in UNRWA schools who at the same time served as head of the engineering and weapons manufacturing unit of the Jihad Islamic Gaza in the Strip.
Al-Qiq was one of the senior operatives in charge of manufacturing and developing rockets for the Islamic Jihad, preparing bombs and weapons and training generations of “engineers” on the basis of his knowledge. In the summer of 2006 Al-Qiq visited China where he showed an interest in light aircraft, possibly for the purpose of purchasing and production in order to carry out attacks against Israel.
Al-Qiq’s activities in the field of terrorism were exposed in September 2007, when he survived an Israeli assassination attempt. Nevertheless, he continued to serve as a teacher, educator and director of UNRWA schools and engaged in the education of children and youth in summer camps. It is unclear why UNRWA failed to dismiss him from any role in teaching and education in its institutions after his terrorist activities were exposed.
Said Siam – Siam, who was a close associate and confidant of the leader of Hamas, Khaled Mashaal, and later was appointed interior minister in the Hamas government and was in charge of the military forces in the Gaza Strip, served for 23 years a teacher and educator in UNRWA schools. Until 2003 Siam was Hamas’ representative in the Coordinating Committee of the National and Islamic Forces, which coordinated activities within the framework of the Al-Aqsa Intifada. Despite being a well-known senior activist in Hamas, UNRWA did not take steps to remove him from its ranks.
Zuheir al-Qaisi – Al-Qaisi, who was a senior commander in the Popular Resistance Committees terrorist organization, served for years as a mathematics teacher in UNRWA schools while also being a member of a terrorist organization (the Rafik Salemi groups).
The activities of the “Islamic Bloc” in UNRWA schools
“Al-Kutla Al-Islamiya” (the Islamic Bloc) is the official wing of Hamas, which operates in the educational institutions in the Gaza Strip (and in the West Bank), starting from elementary schools, junior high schools (including the management of UNRWA) as well as in high schools, colleges and universities.
The “Islamic Bloc’s” strategy in elementary and middle schools focuses on an attempt to attract the students to the various activities conducted by the organization, and which are meant to strengthen ties with the students, their faith in Islam and gradually bring them closer to Hamas ideology until they become activists in the movement and in its military wing.
In every school, including schools run by UNRWA, Hamas appoints a representative who heads the “Islamic Bloc’s” branch, and he serves as a liaison for the group and is responsible for enlisting the students to the “Islamic Bloc” and for organizing activities in the school and after school hours.
Shaban Mohammad Mushtaha, an operative of al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas military/ terrorist wing, and a graduate of UNRWA’s schools Hashem and Shujaiya, was appointed in 2009 while studying at the Islamic University in Gaza to the guide of the Islamic bloc at UNRWA’s Shujaiya middle school.
The activities of the Islamic Bloc in UNRWA school in 2014-16
Canada restores funding for UNRWA
Marie-Claude Bibeau, Canada’s Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, announced on Wednesday, November 16, 2016, new funding “to support education, health and social services for millions of vulnerable Palestinian refugees, as well as urgent humanitarian assistance.” The new funding includes:
- $20 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) to help increase access to these essential services. A proportion of Canadian funding will also be used to expand training for staff on the proper and neutral use of social media.
- $5 million to UNRWA’s emergency appeal for Palestinian refugees impacted by the crisis in Syria and surrounding areas.
“It is critically important to the government of Canada that development aid is used for its intended purpose and that it reaches those in greatest need,” Bibeau’s statement reads.
“As such, there will be enhanced due diligence applied to UNRWA funding. Today’s funding is accompanied by a very robust oversight and reporting framework, which includes regular site visits and strong anti-terrorism provisions.”
Bibeau added that Canada’s support for Palestinian refugees is reinforced by its international leadership to provide humanitarian assistance to the poorest and most vulnerable.
During the debate in Parliament on November 16, 2016, Bibeau revealed that Canada consulted the Israeli government before making the decision to restore the funding for UNRWA. In this regard Bibeau said the following: “We have done all the necessary verification in co-operation with our allies and UNRWA, and even the Israeli government, before making this decision. The funding announcement includes a robust oversight mechanism and a stronger accountability framework. This funding is crucial for the security of the region.”
Bibeau did not elaborate whether the Israeli government supported or opposed the Canadian decision.