JERUSALEM – The Biden administration’s massive financial support for the scandal-ridden U.N. agency for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip was hit by a call from Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, to scrap U.S. funds for it due to its alleged benefits for the Hamas terror movement.
“The United States should immediately halt funding to UNRWA and work to replace it with a more responsible organization. UNRWA provides direct benefit to Hamas by distributing resources across the Gaza Strip that go straight into the Hamas war machine, which means their activities pose a direct threat to Israelis and Americans,” Cruz told Fox News Digital in a statement.
UNRWA is the acronym for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East. The Biden administration has pumped $1 billion of taxpayer money into UNRWA since 2021.
Biden’s funding for UNRWA is in the crosshairs of congressional oversight as some representatives accuse the agency of being complicit in its support of Hamas in Gaza.
Cruz, who has spearheaded efforts over the years to root out corruption at U.N. agencies, added, “Nobody denies that aid that goes into the Gaza Strip. When Joe Biden became president, his administration knew that restarting aid to UNRWA would illegally benefit Hamas terrorists, but they gave themselves exemptions from anti-terrorism laws and did it anyway. They didn’t care and neither does UNRWA, and they’re still engaged in benefiting Hamas terrorists after October 7.”
John Kirby, U.S. National Security Council spokesman, said last week, “U.N. Relief Agency does important work. In fact, they’re doing a lot of heavy lifting right now in terms of trying to get food, water, medicine to the people of Gaza, all up and down the Strip. They’re doing a lot of work, and they’re doing it in harm’s way – very much so in harm’s way.”
He added “And you can’t hold them accountable for the depredations of Hamas and the way Hamas uses civilian infrastructure, including hospitals, to – for command and control, for storage of weapons, for the holding of hostages.”
David Bedein, director of the Center for Near East Policy Research and an expert on UNRWA, produced a video in August titled “Askar—UNRWA: Cradle of Killers” purportedly showing Palestinian children inciting hatred against Jews and Israel at the Askar refugee camp near the West Bank city of Nablus.
A young boy who is said to be a student at an UNRWA school declares, “With Allah’s help, they (the Jews) will all die.” A number of the alleged UNRWA school children promise they will return to Israel and Israeli cities as part of a Palestinian absorption of the Jewish state. “We will free Palestine and sacrifice martyrs to free Palestine,” says a second young student.
The area they refer to as “Palestine” is used by the children throughout the short documentary film to cover the entire territory of Israel. Since its release, Bedein’s documentary went viral on social media, gaining millions of views.
A Fox News Digital report in November showed some teachers and staff members of UNRWA praising the Hamas slaughter on Oct. 7. The U.S. and the E.U. have classified Hamas as a foreign terrorist organization.
When asked about Bedein’s film expose, Juliette S. Touma, a spokeswoman for UNRWA, told Fox News Digital, “Attacks such as these attempt to discredit the Agency despite the lifesaving work it carries out. The latest video, circulating on X (formerly Twitter), attempts to link UNRWA’s education system to violence, using clips of alleged ‘UNRWA’ students and teachers.”
She added “The videos do not portray the reality in UNRWA schools. UNRWA dismisses those accusations in the strongest possible terms. UNRWA firmly condemns the antisemitic and inflammatory statements made during some of the interviews filmed. We also have serious concerns around the potential harm caused to children through the making and publication of these videos.”
Touma stressed that “UNRWA has zero tolerance for hate, discrimination or any action that could be viewed as taking sides in conflict. UNRWA prides itself on providing a quality education in line with U.N. principles to Palestine refugees. To ensure no controversial material is taught in schools, the Agency undertakes regular and meticulous review of all textbooks and learning materials used by UNRWA schools to ensure their compatibility with UN values and principles.”
Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who has sought legislation to stop U.S. funding to UNRWA due to its alleged enabling of terrorism and antisemitism, said last year, “UNRWA has a long history of employing people connected to terrorist movements like Hamas, promoting antisemitic textbooks, and using its schools to store Hamas weapons. It is unthinkable that U.S. taxpayer dollars would be used to help fund such an organization.”
UNRWA schools and facilities have served as weapons storage facilities over the years for Hamas. Israel’s army located “a number of rocket launchers installed near an UNRWA school,” according to a report by the Israel-based Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center in the first week of January.
The U.S. State Department did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital press queries.