A major United Nations (UN) agency providing humanitarian services for Palestinians has deeper ties to Hamas and other Islamic terrorist organizations than previously realized, The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday.

Over a thousand UNRWA staff members, roughly 10% of the agency’s total staff, have links to Islamic terrorist organizations, according to U.S. intelligence reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. Approximately a dozen UNRWA staff members, many of them primary and secondary school teachers, were involved in the Oct. 7 attacks against Israel that left over 1,200 civilians dead and took hundreds more hostage.

“UNRWA’s problem is not just ‘a few bad apples’ involved in the October 7 massacre,” a senior Israeli official told the WSJ. “The institution as a whole is a haven for Hamas’ radical ideology.”

Out of the dozen UNRWA staffers directly implicated on Friday, six aided Hamas in the terror group’s sweeping attacks against Israel, according to the U.S. intelligence report reviewed by the WSJ. Two UNRWA staffers played a direct role in kidnapping Israeli citizens, two more were traced to the scene where a high number of Israelis were killed, and others played a role in helping plan and coordinate the attack ahead of time.

One of the 12 UNRWA staffers was a Hamas commander and was involved in the attack against Kibbutz Be’eri that killed 97 people and kidnapped over two dozen more, according to the WSJ. Another escaped the scene of the attacks with the dead body of an Israeli soldier.

Approximately 1,200 of the roughly 12,000 total UNRWA Gaza staff are linked to Hamas or Islamic Jihadist terror groups, according to the intelligence report review by the WSJ. Approximately 50% of total UNRWA Gaza staff have close relatives with Hamas and Islamic militant groups.

UNRWA fired the dozen staff members allegedly involved in the Hamas attacks and launched an investigation into the matter on Friday. The Biden administration halted funding for UNRWA after reviewing the intelligence report and alerting the agency about its existence.

“The United States is extremely troubled by the allegations that twelve UNRWA employees may have been involved in the October 7 Hamas terrorist attack on Israel,” the State Department said in a statement. “The Department of State has temporarily paused additional funding for UNRWA while we review these allegations and the steps the United Nations is taking to address them.”

The Trump administration previously cut funding with UNRWA in 2018 but funding was renewed by the Biden administration in 2021, according to the WSJ.

UNRWA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Jake Smith on January 29, 2024

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