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unrwa scandal

As several nations cut funding for UNRWA, Israeli leaders call for dismissal of leadership, removal from Gaza

UN Watch says it began warning UN about incitement back in 2015

UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) office in Gaza (Photo: Shutterstock)

After several nations, including the United States, Canada and Germany, announced the suspension of funding to the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) following allegations of its staff members' involvement in the Oct. 7 attack in Israel, Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz called for the dismissal of its leader Philippe Lazzarini. 

Katz accused UNRWA serving Hamas terror rather than helping the civilians of Gaza. 

“We have been warning for years: UNRWA perpetuates the refugee issue, obstructs peace, and serves as a civilian arm of Hamas in Gaza,” Katz wrote on X (formerly Twitter) on Saturday. 

Katz further called on the UN to “take immediate personal measures against the heads of UNRWA.” 

“UNRWA is not the solution,” Katz said. “Many of its employees are Hamas members who identify with its murderous views and assist it in providing shelter for terrorist activities and maintaining its rule.” 

According to Katz, the foreign ministry will make efforts to “ensure that UNRWA will not be part of 'the day after' in Gaza.” 

“The leadership of UNRWA should be dismissed and thoroughly investigated for their knowledge of these activities. In Gaza's rebuilding, UNRWA must be replaced with agencies dedicated to genuine peace and development," the foreign minister said. 

Late on Saturday evening, Katz wrote another message on his X account, simply stating, “Mr. Lazzarini please resign.” 

Katz was not the only Israeli leader to praise the decision made by several countries to cut UNRWA funding. Opposition leader Yair Lapid, the leader of Israel's Yesh Atid part, also posted on X.

“I welcome the decision by the US, UK, Canada, Australia, Finland, Italy and others to suspend funding of UNRWA,” Lapid wrote. “It’s time to create an alternative which won’t educate generations of Palestinians to hate and won’t cooperate with Hamas’s terrorism.” 

Former Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen, posted to social media shortly before the decisions were announced: “Not another cent to UNRWA!”

He accused the UN organization of perpetuating the conflict and turning a blind eye to Hamas’ use of civilians as human shields. 

Hillel Neuer, executive director of the organization UN Watch, a non-governmental Geneva watchdog organization, also called on Lazzarini to resign, pointing out that his organization has been sharing evidence UNRWA members' incitement for years, only to be dismissed and accused of “politically-driven assertions against the Agency.” 

Neuer posted a link to a UN Watch report from 2015 with evidence showing 12 UNRWA teachers inciting terrorism against Jews on their social media accounts.

“The pattern and practice of UNRWA school principals, teachers and staff members posting antisemitic and terror-inciting images suggests a pathology of racism and violence within UNRWA that must be rooted out, not buried," Neuer stated in the report.

“The UN must recognize that these disgusting posts, published on Facebook accounts run by people who identify themselves as UNRWA officials, constitute a gross violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which prohibits “incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence,” said Neuer.

“Enough of the UNRWA strategy of impunity, denial and deflection. It’s time for the perpetrators to be held to account. They must be fired — immediately,” he wrote more than eight years ago.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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