Hillel Neuer Addresses the Dutch Parliament on UNRWA


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Welcome, Mr. Neuer, and the floor is yours for about five minutes.


Hillel Neuer 

Thank you, Mr Chairman and distinguished members of the committee.

I’ve come here to the Hague to testify before your committee with the message that if we want to support peace and human rights for the Middle East and indeed for the world, it is time for us to find a replacement for UNRWA. If, however, we want to continue funding an agency whose raison d’être, whose very purpose, is to instill resentment, grievance and support for war, then this country and others should support UNRWA.


Interjection by Stephan van Baarle (DENK)

I just want to make a point of order. I think it’s, it’s heinous to state that an organization and its raison d’etre is to instill hatred and war. Words of these kind have been used. So I object to those kinds of words. It’s, in my opinion, it’s not fair, it’s not true, and I deem it unparliamentary, 



Yes, but Mr. van Baarle, we as a committee have said that we want to have a hearing about the subject, and this committee has concluded that three guests will be invited, and this is one of our guests, and he will be here for the first round, and we gave him five minutes the floor to tell his story about UNRWA and the role of UNRWA in Gaza. And then it’s your turn to ask questions. And, well, ask questions and get answers And then whatever your political opinion about this is you can take to the debate that’s going to be about this subject in Parliament. So this is actually what we’re doing. It’s what the committee and majority wanted. So I suggest we continue, and we give Mr. Neuer the five minutes to express his opinions, and then it’s your turn to ask questions. I’m only saying what the majority of the committee wanted. So that’s what we’re doing here today. Okay, Mr. Neuer, please continue. 


Hillel Neuer 

Yes, I agree with the member that it is objectionable and heinous that there would be such an agency. And I invite the member and everyone else to look at the evidence and be happy to engage with the evidence, including all of the documents, some of which I’ll present here, which are on our website, unwatch.org, voluminous evidence, including links to hundreds and thousands of messages by UNRWA teachers, UNRWA union leaders and staff, explaining what is UNRWA.

I’m going to quote my foreign minister, the Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis, who said, in 2018, he said, “For a long time, UNRWA was a solution, but today it has become part of the problem.” This is the Swiss foreign minister. “UNRWA supplies the ammunition to continue the conflict. The Swiss Foreign Minister. “By supporting UNRWA, we keep the conflict alive. It’s a perverse logic.” I agree with the Swiss foreign minister, and I’ll explain why

We recently had a review. According to the UNRWA talking points, the Colonna review gave UNRWA a clean bill of health, and UNRWA has been certified as combating terrorism by an independent audit. That is the story that we hear. There was an independent audit. Let’s take a look at the independent audit. We released a report several weeks ago called UNRWA: Rigged Independent Review. It’s on our website, unwatch.org. And there, in great detail, we document, first of all, how – and UNRWA admits this – the initiative for this independent review, so-called, was Monsieur Lazzarini himself. The head of UNRWA is the one who initiated the review, and it was orchestrated from the start to give a certain result. They picked the head of the review, Catherine Colonna, who was not neutral and objective on UNRWA. In fact, several weeks prior to her appointment, she had said, publicly posted, that “UNRWA is needed more than ever.” She was also Foreign Minister of France, which gave tens of millions to UNRWA. They were effectively a board member on the advisory commission of UNRWA. So the notion that she would be independent is absurd. 

But look at also the members of the review group. There were three Scandinavian institutes, each of which is a major defender of UNRWA. For example, one of the groups conducting the so-called independent review is a Danish group called CMI. The leading expert of CMI is Kjersti Berg. Kjersti Berg is one of the most well-known defenders of UNRWA. She writes major papers defending UNRWA. In her report from 2021, sorry, 2022 report, she said that any notion that the agency instigates violence through its school curriculum are unfounded claims. 

But something else we should know about Kjersti Berg, which is little known, is that Kjersti Berg, a member of CMI, one of the groups conducting the review, is part of what’s called the Global Network for Palestine, GNQP, Global Network for the Question of Palestine. That is an organization, a network founded by Francesca Albanese, who’s now the UN Rapporteur in Palestine. You can go on the website called ARDD. It’s all exposed on our website, unwatch.org. A global network of about 90 people, former UNRWA officials like Lex Takkenberg, a former UNRWA legal advisor, former PLO officials like Hanan Ashrawi, leading anti-Israeli academics. And their job was to lobby against Israel. 

Several months ago, when your country and others froze funding for UNRWA, this group had a meeting, and we know about it because they put it on their website. And at the meeting, they said, “We need a strategy to convince countries to reinstate funding,” and they adopted a 10 point messaging plan. It’s on their website now – it’s a bit hidden after we exposed what I’m about to tell you. You can find it on our website, unwatch.org. In the 10 Point messaging plan, they say, and I’m going to open it up. They give a strategy for how their members, including Kjersti Berg, are supposed to lobby officials – not like you, because they don’t consider you high enough. They say – the highest officials of each country, we’re going to distribute the names, and you have to lobby the highest officials of each country and tell them how to reinstate funding. And they say it must, I’m quoting now, “It must be stressed to donors,” that means your country, “that, as recent history has shown, if 6 million Palestinians are deprived of aid, they will make the perilous journey to Europe.” “The point being,” and I’m quoting here, “particularly, to officials from right wing, anti-immigration governments, that support to refugees through UNRWA is a much more cost effective and politically acceptable solution.” 

In other words, the group, created by Albanese, had a meeting in February, adopted the plan drafted by Chris Gunness, the former UNRWA spokesman, edited by Lex Takkenberg, the former UNRWA legal advisor and a chief architect of the 10 Point Plan, to lobby European governments to fund UNRWA and tell the right-wing governments to give them a message that anyone at UNRWA and anyone in their camp would consider racist. That if you don’t give money to them, the Arabs are going to overwhelm Europe. So give money to UNRWA or all the Arabs are going to overwhelm Europe. This was the cynical message that they strategized would be their messaging plan. And Kjersti Berg is part of the network. She’s also sitting on CMI as the lead UNRWA expert that’s conducting the independent review. 

The Independent Review is a farce. 

Thank you.



Then we go to the Q&A session. Mr. Ram from the PVV with your first question. 


Mr. Dennis Ram (Party for Freedom)

 Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Neuer, for being here and being a guest of our parliament, and elaborating about the situation, about UNRWA.

The first point you make about, for instance, Francesca Albenese, is very shocking. Maybe you can elaborate what the neutral mechanisms are from UNRWA, according to the review group, and what is, what was wrong with those mechanisms, and what is the connection with Francesca Albanese and the review group?


Hillel Neuer

 So first, it should be noted that Francesca Albanese herself is the UN Special Rapporteur charged with investigating, quote, “Israel’s violations of the bases and principles of international law.” So her title is rapporteur in Palestine on human rights in Palestine. In fact, her mandate from February 1993 is only to look at, quote, “Israel’s violations of international law,” not to look at anybody else. Now she worked in the legal office of UNRWA around 2012, approximately, for about two years, where she became friendly with Lex Takkenberg and Chris Gunness. The three of them are, as they call themselves, old friends. Chris Gunness is the longtime spokesman of UNRWA. When we first began to document how UNRWA teachers and school principals regularly celebrate Adolf Hitler and call for the murder of Jews, Chris Gunness’ initial response in August 2015 was “journalists, don’t look at them. This is a he said, she said, story. There’s nothing to see here.” That was his approach for many years. 

So Albanese is working closely with Chris Gunness, who drafted the 10 Point messaging plan, working closely with Lex Takkenberg, who’s retired – the former UNRWA lawyer, former UNRWA legal counsel, and chief ethics inspector. And together, they worked on the strategy to orchestrate the release of the Colonna report and everything that would happen: how countries would announce in their 10 Point Plan. They also talk about how journalists who are friendly to UNRWA should help support our message. So that’s the network. But you asked about the procedures. The Colonna report says that no UN agency in the world has been audited as much as UNRWA, and that there’s no agency that has as many rigorous procedures and mechanisms and procedures and devices as UNRWA. It’s unbelievable how many devices they have and mechanisms. 

Now look, Joseph Stalin, the dictator of the Soviet Union, released a constitution in the 1930s. And the Stalinist propaganda, which went around the world, was this is the most democratic constitution in the world. And it wasn’t a lie. There were many things in the Stalinist constitution that were democratic. But if you knew something about what was happening in the 1930s when he was releasing the Constitution, thousands, hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, were being purged and murdered. 

UNRWA may claim that they have the most mechanisms in the world. Maybe it’s true. But you know, today we released a report. It’s on our website. It’s called – I’m going to circulate it afterwards to the group – Contempt for Colonna: UNRWA leaders continue to promote terrorism, where we mention the head of the UNRWA teachers union. Not one teacher, but he is a school principal at the Deir Yassin school. His name is Fathi al-Sharif, also pronounced “Fateh” al-Sharif. 

In March, he was suspended by UNRWA. We don’t know exactly why. It’s not entirely clear, but he’s still a teacher at UNRWA, a school principal and head of the teachers union. In our report, we show that Fathi al-Sharif is actually a leading supporter and probably a member of Hamas. 

Our report shows – and we released our report, so his Facebook page, it’s on our website, unwatch.org, you can go to the Facebook page of Mr. al-Sharif. I expect that UNRWA will delete the page within the next 24 hours, but it’s still live now. We just released it, and you see that al-Sharif has attended Hamas events, rallies, funerals, always appearing next to the Hamas leadership. He praises Hamas attacks. On October 7, he said, this is the head of the UNRWA teachers union, said, “God is the Greatest. God is the Greatest.” This is on October 7, after the massacre. He praised Hamas leader Hassan Yousef as a firm leader, adding, “we’re all proud of you.” He celebrated Hamas terrorist Fadi Abu Shkhidem with the words, “our blood creates victory.” And I could go on and on. Here are pictures of Fathi al-Sharif with a Hamas leader in Lebanon. This is Mr. al-Sharif. This is the Hamas leader in Lebanon. 


Interruption: Can you finish your answer please? Because we have many other members and many other questions. 


Hillel Neuer:

I will finish my answer by saying that the case of Fathi Al Sharif underscores the fact that the mechanisms and procedures supposedly certified by the Colonna report are a sham. Mr. al-Sharif has thousands of friends on Facebook, many of whom work at UNRWA. They know he’s a supporter of Hamas. They know he’s probably a leading member of Hamas, and they let him stay in his position for years running the education of UNRWA that all of you and all of us are paying for. 



Thank you. Mr. Kahraman from NSA, with your question. 


Isa Kahraman (New Social Contract)


Thank you, Mr Chair. Thanks for the introduction.

You were stating that the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland said that UNRWA is part of the problem. And you say that you also have evidence in violations of UNRWA. Could you explain what you do with the evidence, and who do you speak, and who do you give the evidence, and which actions are taken after the evidence is brought to those people? 


Hillel Neuer 

Yes, thank you for that question. You know, when it was revealed in late January that approximately 12 UNRWA employees were involved in the October 7 massacre, including one,  Mr. al-Naami, who’s a UNRWA social worker, who is kidnapping the lifeless body of Yonatan Samerano. This is seen on video. The head of the United Nations, Guterres, said, “I’m horrified.” And the head of UNRWA Philippe Lazzarini, “We are all horrified.” 

And our response was, “really, are you really horrified?” Because since August 2015, we’ve been submitting reports with screenshots. Now maybe we’re making up all the screenshots, but I don’t think so because UNRWA actually has been forced to suspend several of the people once the US or other governments took action. So in our report, this is what we submitted to the Colonna review. It was all ignored. This is called “submission by UN watch to the independent review group” dated 9 April 2024 It’s on our website at unwatch.org. And we submitted to Madame Colonna. None of this was mentioned. The list of the reports that we sent to UNRWA. So since 2015, August 2015, we sent a letter to Ban Ki-Moon, then Secretary General. No response. September 2015, we sent a report to Ban Ki-Moon and then UNRWA chief, Pierre Krähenbühl, who is now the head of the Red Cross. No response. 2015, 2017, 2018. No response. 

The only response that we would get would be to attack us. Chris Gunness, who was part of the lobbying group supporting UNRWA, he was their spokesman. His strategy repeatedly was to attack UN Watch. You know, I live in Geneva. If I reported to the Geneva Board of Education that numerous of their teachers, hundreds of their teachers, were posting pictures of Adolf Hitler and saying it’s a religious obligation to kill the Jews, they would invite me immediately and say, “Can you please help us find the perpetrators?” The response of UNRWA was the opposite. All they did was to attack us. There is not a single agency in the world that documents UNRWA violations of neutrality that UNRWA embraces. There’s a few other groups that report these things. UNRWA attacks all of them. They are not interested in hearing about it. All they want to do is to attack us. So to answer your question: we reported these repeatedly. It’s all documented in our submission to the Colonna report dates, 2021, 2023 and so forth, and the response was either to ignore us or to attack us. 

Thank you, Mr. van Baarle, with your question please .


Stephan van Baarle


Thank you, Mr Chair,

Your organization in international media has been characterized as a propaganda organization for the Israeli government. I want to ask you how, how can it happen that UNRWA itself as an organization, has researched the claims you have done about UNRWA personnel and stated itself that since 2022 the claims you made about their personnel, more than half, a big majority of the claims you did turned out not to be even UNRWA personnel.

And I heard you are also about the Colonna research, basing your opinion on conspiracy theories, supposed intentions of people based only on the fact because they are members of certain organizations or health professions in the past. This is not proof that the Colonna research must be discredited. So why have you done in the past, and we can prove it, unsubstantiated proof about UNRWA employees, and why are you basing your statements on conspiracy, conspiracy theories?


Hillel Neuer 

Thank you. There were several questions there. The first, as you said, international media accuses us of being a voice for Israeli propaganda. Which international media is this?



Sorry, I think this was a statement by Mr. van Baarle. I think he asked two questions. One is about false acquisitions to the personnel, and the other one is about the conspiracy theories. Maybe you can focus on answering that, because we can’t have a debate here. That’s not, I understand, that’s not a setup of this meeting, right? 


Hillel Neuer 

Okay, well, I’ll just respond to that defamatory comment by saying it’s false and defamatory. And in fact, our Chairman, for 20 years, Ambassador Alfred Moses was publishing articles on Haaretz, criticizing Prime Minister Netanyahu in a very sharp way. And I would recommend that the member read that and review his sources a bit more carefully. 

Regarding the claims, the member says that their claims were not substantiated, that more than half were not substantiated, so that means that half were substantiated. Okay, well, what I’d like to ask the member, if the member can provide one example of one claim that was not substantiated in the past two years. You mentioned, since 2022 there were claims – because we make public screenshots. Right now, we’ve made public the Facebook page of Fathi al-Sharif, also known as Abu Amin, the head of the Lebanon teachers union. If there’s anything in there that’s false. It’s on his Facebook page. All we’ve done, sir, is give screenshots of UNRWA pages. Now, maybe someone’s created a fake page to defame UNRWA within the refugee camps. Maybe that’s, that was the conspiracy theory put out by Chris Gunness. But if UNRWA has refuted a claim, I would invite the member to tell us exactly what, because, in my experience, I’ve never seen UNRWA’s documentation of how they’ve refuted one of our claims. It’s not impossible. They may. We’re just checking and putting out what’s out there, public information. And we normally what UNRWA does is they say a half are not substantiated. Could the member give us examples in the past few years of the cases that we named – because we named cases – of the individual names that were not substantiated?

Thanks for that answer. Mr. Stoffer from SGP, please go ahead. 


Chris Stoffer (Reformed Political Party)

Thank you for this introduction. My question is the following, was the appointment of Catherine Colonna ever dipped or challenged in the UN after some of the biases and conflicts of interest surfaced?


Hillel Neuer

Thank you for your question.

You know, and this goes to really what the whole point of the Colonna review is. And I’d like to quote the voice of UNRWA itself. The leading spokesman for UNRWA is the surrogate for UNRWA, is Chris Gunness. He was the spokesman for many years. Officially, he’s retired, but in practice, he is one of their leading spokesmen because he drafted the 10 Point messaging plan that was crafted in the meeting with current UNRWA officials in February 2024. And he said, and I quote, “The appointment of the review group was designed to give,” and I’m quoting further “cover to donor states, if that’s what they need within their own internal constituencies to resume funding for UNRWA.” And the 10 Point messaging plan says the point of these reviews are a ladder for countries to climb down. In other words, not that the review is an objective, serious, independent attempt to find out widespread and pervasive support and promotion of terrorism with UNRWA, but designed to give cover to countries, because we know what the conclusion is. And you know, when Madame Colonna gave her review, she said, UNRWA is a lifeline. It’s irreplaceable. It’s indispensable. We didn’t need to do a review group to come up with those lines. 

We’re going to have a video coming out within the next week where you’ll see hundreds of officials repeating the mantra, the official UNRWA mantra, and it’s probably been repeated in your own parliament, is UNRWA is “indispensable. irreplaceable. life saving. lifeline.” That’s what she said. So we knew what the results would be. Not that there’s nothing interesting in the report, there are some useful things, but the final conclusion and the way it was used was all orchestrated. And when we submitted the evidence in our report, very clear because she embraced UNRWA weeks before, nothing happened. To answer your question, nothing happened at the United Nations. They went along with the game as if this was an objective review, even though they themselves said the whole point of it was to provide cover. And I quote what Colonna said to reassure the donors. “Pour rassurer les donateurs.” To reassure the donors. That was the point. 



Thank you. Ms. Dobbe from the Socialist Party, please go ahead. 


Sarah Dobbe (Socialist Party)

Thank you, Chair.

Our guest is making some serious accusations for which I myself have not found the facts.

And I wonder, these accusations are exposed on the website, as you call it? Do you have contact with UNRWA before you publish these accusations? In other words, do you try to fact-check these accusations with UNRWA before you put the accusations out there? Because if they turn out not to be true, which is, I understand is sometimes the case, then the information is and the accusation is already out there. Thank you, Mr. Neuer.


Hillel Neuer

First of all, let’s be clear. In most cases, the accusations that we put out are publications by UNRWA officials. So the teragram report from January that we put out are open messages – we didn’t hack. It’s an open message called the “UNRWA teachers group in Gaza,” where thousands of UNRWA teachers belong to it, some are full time, some are part time. And they were celebrating the October 7 attacks. So we didn’t put it out there. They put it out there. We linked to something that is public. When I linked today to the Facebook page of Fathi al-Sharif, the head of the UNRWA teachers union, I’m not putting it out there. His pictures. This is Fathi al-Sharif, I’m glad you asked, with a giant picture of Sheikh Hassan Yousef, the founder of Hamas. There are pictures after pictures here of him celebrating terrorists. 

So we’re not putting it out there. We don’t have to contact UNRWA, because you know what UNRWA will do? I’m going to give you a secret. The moment we call UNRWA, they’re going to call Facebook and delete the page. The page is gone within 24 hours. They don’t want us to talk about it. They don’t want the Dutch citizens to know that there are hundreds and thousands of UNRWA teachers, the head of the UNRWA teachers union in Lebanon, Fathi Al Sharif, is a major supporter of Hamas. On his page. Tomorrow, the page will be deleted. Of course, we screenshotted everything, so I know you want us to give it to UNRWA, so it’ll be deleted. 

But let me tell you, because you asked, we have reached out to UNRWA, and we’ve documented it. In our report, in the evidence submitted to Colonna, we documented all the times that we reached out to UNRWA, because the distinguished member asked if we reached out to UNRWA. We have reached out to UNRWA. In August, 2015 we reached out to UNRWA. No answer. September 2015. No answer. November 2015. 2018, 2021, 2023. We keep reaching out to UNRWA. One time we got a response. It was Mr. William Deere, their US Representative, where he responded to our letter but refused my request to meet. I live in Geneva. I am offering to meet once again, and I hope that you will ask your friends at UNRWA. 

I will meet with Mr. Lazzarini in Geneva. He is coming in a few weeks, and he’s been there. He refuses to meet with me. I’ll meet with him in Amman, I’ll meet with him in Jerusalem – those are their headquarters. I’ll meet with him anywhere. They refuse to meet. When I was invited to a panel by the Stimson Center a few weeks ago in Washington, DC. Panel debate with William Deere, the UNRWA representative of the United States, a former Jordanian official, and a member of the Stimson Center. I was a confirmed panelist invited by Barbara Slavin, who’s a major supporter of the Iran deal, on the Stimson Center. She wrote me back saying, “I’m sorry, Mr. Neuer, you were a confirmed speaker, but I have to disinvite you.” I said, “Why? Why are you disinviting me?” And she said, “Yes, it’s true. William Deere, the representative of US of UNRWA, said he wouldn’t appear on the panel if you’re there. So I’m disinviting you.”

So you’re asking me why we’re not engaging with UNRWA. And the truth is the opposite. We have reached out to UNRWA time and time and time again. Not only do they refuse to meet with us anywhere, but even to appear on a panel with them, they will refuse to appear and get myself canceled. So please, I invite you to ask your friends from UNRWA: meet with us. We have hundreds of pages of evidence, and if we’re wrong, let them show us how. Thank you. 



Thank you. Ms. Hirsch from the Greens and Social Democrats with your question. Thank you very much.


Daniëlle Hirsch (Greens and Social Democrats)

As you know, the Netherlands has pretty high standards for transparency for civil society organizations and think tanks, so I’m used to looking, when I meet an organization, looking at the website. Who are you? Where are your funding coming from? I’ve tried to find those data on your website, and couldn’t find them. So maybe you can enlighten me. Who are your main funders? How do you remain independent from those same funders? And can you tell us about your relationship with the Israeli government, and if you receive any direct or indirect funding from that Israeli government? Thank you. 


Hillel Neuer

Thank you for that question. I appreciate it. The answer is – we receive no money whatsoever directly or indirectly from the Israeli government. This is a Hamas propaganda point that has been propagated in particular by a Hamas affiliated group called the Palestinian Return Center. We are a Swiss NGO created in 1993 under Article 60 of the Swiss Civil Code. We are independently audited. We are recognized as a non-governmental organization by the United Nations. We are accredited with special consultative status with the United Nations Economic Social Council, and we get no money from any governments. 

So I take note that the member hasn’t challenged any of the points of fact that we have, and the only thing the member can try to do is to throw mud, but it doesn’t stick. We are one of the leading human rights organizations at the United Nations. 


Ms. Hirsch

I do apologize, but I didn’t throw… I asked some very clear factual questions. I’m not throwing any mud. I’m trying to understand where your funding comes. What normally should be on a website. Your audit thing is not on your website. I’m asking a very factual question. I haven’t thrown any mud. I’ve been trying to keep as factual as possible. I don’t understand why you’re saying this. Honestly, I’m asking for things that are normal for any organization to be public. 



Thank you. Ms Hirsch, so maybe you can focus on where the funding is coming from. 


Hillel Neuer

Thank you. Our funding only comes from private donations that are made from around the world. These are made in Switzerland, America, Europe, Australia, all around the world. I could give you the names of the donors, but I think that you might expose them to all kinds of threats. So if any donor, there are some donors that publish the information, but it’s all private donors. That’s the answer.



Thank you. Ms. Kostić from Party for the Animals


Ines Kostić (Party for the Animals)

 Thank you. I’m just flabbergasted by the fact that we have invited an organization that spreads this information in times…



Member Kostić, We invited this member. So let’s not give qualifications about our guest, but let’s just stick to questions and then the guest can answer. Please.


Ms. Kostić

Yes, thank you, Chairman, but I also have the right to state something, because this has to do with the questions I wanted to ask.

This organization has accused people, and it’s been proven that there are no evidence for this. It’s just spreading disinformation, and it’s hurting kids who are now hungry, dying in Gaza. And I’ve seen people asking questions, and they are just getting more disinformation back. They are even being accused by this member, so I’m not going to ask any questions because of this reason. I’m just going to get more disinformation back. So it’s just a disgrace.



 Thank you. Member Kostić. Well, we don’t really have time for a full second round. So are there members with pressing questions? Mr. Ram, please go ahead. 


Mr. Ram

Thank you. In my experience, I checked the website. I saw the facts on the website of UN Watch, so I don’t agree with the statements that are made by my colleague.

I have one question about, two questions about the strikes that what had, what happened when one of the one of the head of union, UNRWA Gaza union, was suspended, of course, Fathi al-Sharif you already mentioned, and also the colleague, Raef Naim, who was also suspended by encouraging terrorism. 



Can you do a short question, and then a short answer, and then we try to do a few questions? 


Mr. Ram

Well, the full round, but can you give a scope of the support they got when they were suspended?



 Mr. Neuer Mr. Neuer, with a short answer, please. 


Hillel Neuer 

Thank you. When Fathi Al Sharif, who is a major Hamas supporter, has revealed on his Facebook page, which the whole world is looking at right now, when he was suspended – but not fired. He’s not been fired – He mobilized thousands, approximately 2000 at least, UNRWA teachers who went on strike for several months. Mr. Lazzarini had to fly to Lebanon two weeks ago to end the strike. And according to the Palestinian refugees portal, which is a website funded by UNRWA linked groups, they reported that Lazzarini got the strike to end by meeting with the Alliance of Palestinian forces that includes Hamas, the jihad, PFLP-GC, Ansar Allah, that’s the Houthis, that he met with this group, they agreed to stop the strike because he agreed to end the suspension of Fathi al-Sharif that was reported on their website. So the answer is, in Lebanon, for the past few months, 40,000 students were removed from school at various points because of the strike. 

But you mentioned also in Gaza. In 2011 the head of the union of teachers, Suhail al-Hindi, the head of the teachers union in Gaza, when he was suspended – not fired, suspended – 8,000 UNRWA teachers went on strike in Gaza for him. UNRWA reinstated him. Today, he’s on the Politburo of Hamas, openly supporting the October 7 attacks, sitting on the Hamas Politburo with Yahya Sinwar. Thank you.



Any other members who want to ask a second question? Mr. van Baarle, go ahead. 


Mr. van Baarle

Just to follow up a question. The quote was from The Guardian. And the quote was that UN Watch is an organization whose main purpose is to attack the United Nations for alleged bias against Israel. To react to the question you stated. But the question about your methodology and your strategy, because in the past, you stated on your website that thousands of UNRWA teachers celebrated terrorism. And those claims were researched. Claims were researched by UNRWA. The people could not be verified as UNRWA employees, the people you put forward in your report.

So from thousands of people, you narrowed your allegations to 30 people, and eventually, from those 30 people, UNRWA states that only two have been proved to be UNRWA employees. And I’m not talking about the allegations you made, but the great majority of the allegations you made have been proven not even to be UNRWA employees or impossible to identify. So what does that say about your methodology if you put forward unsubstantiated claims of people being UNRWA employees when they are not? 



Thank you. Mr. van Baarle. Mr. Neuer, with your last answer, I think, and then we’re gonna go to the second round.


Hillel Neuer

I will take note that I asked the member earlier if he could name one instance of one of the supporters of terrorism among UNRWA teachers and principals that we cited which UNRWA provided evidence that is not promoting terrorism. And I take note that the member failed to provide a single name, and I will explain to the Honorable Member that I have no… none of us is able to judge UNRWA’s conclusion. You are taking UNRWA’s conclusion as fact. All we do is we name individuals. Today we’ve named Fathi al-Sharif. I named also Suhail al-Hindi, member of the Hamas Politburo with Yahya Sinsar. We named Elham al-Mansour, her Facebook page, where she says, “By Allah, kill all the Jews.” So I’m asking if a member can cite to an UNRWA document that responds to a particular named individual – and we’ve named hundreds of people on our website – if it’s an abstract response that we checked, we didn’t find anything. Maybe UNRWA is saying the person, you know, promoted terrorism yesterday and today, they don’t work for UNRWA, or they work for UNRWA now. So you know, it’s impossible to answer an abstract claim without a particular individual being named. 



Thank you. And this concludes our first round of this hearing. 


UN Watch