Report PDF: UNRWA: Hate Starts Here
WASHINGTON, November 6, 2023 — As war wages on between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, a watchdog group is releasing a new report that reveals how UNRWA teachers in the enclave, funded largely by the U.S. and EU, indoctrinate Palestinian children and promote terrorism and antisemitism.
Entitled “UNRWA: Hate Starts Here,” today’s report uncovers 20 UNRWA teachers and other staff members who celebrated the October 7th Hamas massacre of Israeli civilians on their social media accounts, collected by the non-governmental organization UN Watch, an independent human rights monitoring group based in Geneva.
The new cases are in addition to 133 UNRWA educators and staff who were exposed for promoting hate and violence in UN Watch’s last report, released in March 2023.
UN Watch’s Executive Director Hillel Neuer will be presenting the report on Wednesday before U.S. Congress.
UN Watch today submitted the report to EU foreign affairs commissioner Josep Borrell, and U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, whose governments are among the top funders of UNRWA, as well as to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and UNRWA chief Philippe Lazzarini.
UN Watch is calling on the agency’s major funders—including the U.S., Germany, the UK and the European Union—to ensure that none of their combined $1.2 billion of donations to UNRWA will fund teachers of hate, and to hold the agency accountable to its own standards and commitments.
Among the educators who used their personal social media channels to propagate hate and celebrate the Hamas terror attack on October 7th:
- UNRWA Gaza teacher Osama Ahmed posted “Allah is Great, Allah is Great, reality surpasses our wildest dreams” as the massacre was unfolding.
- UNRWA school principal Iman Hassan justified the massacre as “restoring rights” and “redressing” Palestinian “grievances.”
- Director of the UNRWA Khan Younis Training Center Rawia Helles, who is featured in and UNRWA campaign, glorified one of the terrorists as a “hero,” “raider,” and “prince of Khan Younis.”
- UNRWA English teacher Asmaa Raffia Kuheil excitedly posted “7th, October, 2023! Sculpture the date!” adding a heart emoji.
- UNRWA school administrator Hmada Ahmed posted “welcome the great October.”
The report only examined a sample of Facebook users who publicly identified themselves as UNRWA employees, and therefore UN Watch estimates that the number of UNRWA staff who incite violence and hatred includes hundreds if not thousands among the agency’s 30,000 staff.
Western Countries Fund UNRWA’s $1.6 Billion Budget
The teachers of hate at UNRWA are largely funded by Western countries who contribute the lion’s share of UNRWA’s $1.6 billion-dollar budget. Amounts pledged for 2022 included $344 million from the United States, $122 million from Germany, $107 million from the European Commission, $61 million from Sweden, $17 million from the UK, $24 million from Switzerland, $32 million from Norway, $28 million from France, $24 million from Canada, and $15 million from the Netherlands.
Hamas and Islamic Jihad Outraged Over Fired UNRWA Teacher
Following the release in March of a joint report by UN Watch and IMPACT-se, UNRWA commissioner-general Philippe Lazzarini was pressured into ordering his Lebanon director to suspend a teacher for inciting terrorism on social media.
In reaction, Hamas condemned UNRWA for “repressive behavior that contradicts the human right to freedom, thinking and expression.”
The Hamas statement blasted “UNRWA’s reliance on UN Watch” which it said “implements Zionist policies and has hostile stances towards the rights of the Palestinian people.”
The Iranian-sponsored Islamic Jihad also issued a statement denouncing UNRWA.
The move by UNRWA resulted in an uproar in Lebanon, where UNRWA staff pulled students out of school for mass protests and a 3-day strike.
In 2022, UNRWA had suspended six teachers for similar cases of incitement.
Comment by UN Watch
“We call on the governments that fund UNRWA to declare that they will stop enabling a system that teaches new generations of Palestinians to hate and murder Jews.”
“Let us be clear: the problem is not the social media posts, but rather the unconscionable employment of teachers who preach antisemitism and terrorism.”
“The hate that led to the October 7th massacre did not appear out of thin air. It was inculcated at UNRWA schools over many years. One of the Hamas terrorists who carried out the massacre on Israeli families was even found to be carrying his UNRWA diploma on him as he butchered innocent civilians.”
“The U.S., EU, Germany, UK, Canada and other donor states cannot morally send more money to UNRWA until it shows a genuine commitment to basic norms of education in its schools. This means the agency must publicly condemn UNRWA employees who incite terrorism and antisemitism, remove them from their positions, and create an independent and impartial investigation of all of its staff,” said Neuer.