‘Impossible to say where UNRWA ends and Hamas begins’: Foreign Ministry reacts to review

Lazar Berman is The Times of Israel's diplomatic reporter

With the independent review of UNRWA’s links to terror set to be released in New York, the Foreign Ministry says that Hamas’s penetration of the UN agency is so deep that “it is impossible to say where UNRWA ends and Hamas begins.”

“If more than 2,135 UNRWA employees are members of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and 1/5 of the principals of UNRWA schools are Hamas activists, the problem with UNRWA-Gaza is not a problem of a few bad apples,” writes the Foreign Ministry spokesman in a statement, “it is a poisoned and rotten tree whose roots are Hamas.”

The report, headed by former French foreign minister Catherine Colonna, “ignores the severity of the problem and offers cosmetic fixes,” charges the Foreign Ministry.

“This is not what a true and comprehensive investigation looks like,” says the statement.

“This is what a desire to avoid the problem and not call it by its name looks like.”

Israel says that UNRWA is not part of the solution for Gaza and never will be, and that donor nations should direct their funds to other humanitarian organizations.

The report found that Israel has failed to provide evidence of claims that UNRWA workers in Gaza have ties to terrorist organizations, according to the Guardian newspaper.

The independent review process dubbed the Colonna review was set up in February by former French foreign minister Catherine Colonna after at least 15 countries froze their funding for the humanitarian agency for Palestinian refugees.

This came following allegations by Israel that at least 12 employees of the UN body for Palestinian refugees were directly involved in the October 7 atrocities perpetrated by Hamas; another 30 assisted or facilitated those crimes; and as much as 12 percent of the organization’s staff were affiliated with terror organizations.

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