UNRWA rejects the testimony of free hostage held by UNRWA staff – Hillel Neuer on i24 News
Laura Cellier: Well the UN agency which is responsible for Palestinian refugees and its descendants, UNRWA, has dismissed the testimony of one of the freed hostages who said he had been held captive by an UNRWA teacher. The hostage told Israeli journalist Almog Boker, that the teacher held him in an attic and deprived him of food. Boker says he will not reveal the name of the hostage out of concern for those still being held. UNRWA posted on social media that those claims were unsubstantiated. We’re here to talk about that. Hillel Neuer is an international human rights lawyer, writer, and the executive director of United Nations Watch. He joins us now. Hillel, thanks for being with us. Well, rather than investigate the claims, or the testimony of this ex-hostage UNRWA, chose to deny them outright. So what’s your reaction to that?
Hillel Neuer: Sadly, this is a typical kind of response from UNRWA. We have over the past several years brought before them and the world evidence of UNRWA teachers supporting jihadi terrorism throughout schools of UNRWA in Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, the West Bank, Jordan, and inevitably, what UNRWA’s response is to deny, to downplay, to try to dismiss any concerns rather than address the problem. So it doesn’t surprise me that they made an ad hominem attack on the journalist saying this may amount to misinformation. This is a credible journalist – UNRWA should recognize that their teachers are implicated with terrorism, and they should address the problem, acknowledge it, instead of trying to go on the attack and make ad hominem attacks against a journalist.
UNRWA staff praised the Oct. 7th Hamas terrorist attack – Hillel Neuer on i24 News
Laura Cellier: It’s not the first allegation against UNRWA’s conduct, as you point out, it’s also accused of turning a blind eye to terrorists using its facilities to store weapons. But also, I think it was around 20 UNRWA employees on social media praised Hamas for the October 7 attacks. I mean, how embedded are the terrorists within this institution?
Hillel Neuer: Well, they’re indeed, as you said, Laura, there have been instances where Hamas terrorists were found to be part of UNRWA, where someone who was elected to Hamas Political Bureau was actually a senior official at UNRWA. Well, we’ve had that but in other cases, what we documented indeed, as you said several weeks ago, is that UNRWA teachers, school principals and other staff openly, publicly celebrated the October 7 atrocities. One director of Khan Younis Training Center, her name is Rawia Helles. She said that the one of the attackers of Hamas was a hero and a prince, others said we need to “sculpt the date of October 7, in history as a great day.” So systematically, we found UNRWA staff celebrating October 7. And you know, what UNRWA often will say, is that well, you only found 20, you only found 150. And these are just a few bad apples. But the fact is that we’ve seen that UNRWA staff completely endorse these acts of incitement, when a teacher, whose name was Riyad Nimr of Lebanon was suspended by UNRWA because he had on Facebook supported terrorism. He was embraced by the UNRWA teachers union. So these so-called few bad apples are completely embraced by the system of teachers. UNRWA has a systematic problem of support for antisemitism and jihadi terrorism. They refuse to address the problem and worse, our foreign affairs ministries, whether it’s Canada, whether it’s the State Department, whether it’s European foreign ministries, are siding with UNRWA and are not addressing the problem.
Laura Cellier: Well, that’s what I wanted to ask you. Because this has kind of been a badly kept secret for many years, isn’t it? Thanks to people, such as yourself, that UNRWA, you know, is embedded with Hamas or Hamas is embedded with UNRWA. What point are we going to see European, American, Canadian taxpayers saying, well, actually, we don’t really want our money to go to this institution and to people who support terrorism.
Hillel Neuer: We’re beginning to see some of it. Certainly, I was in the Bundestag last week in Germany, and there are senior members of parliament there who are very upset about this. But up until now, the governments and certainly the entrenched Foreign Ministry, diplomatic officials are giving protection for UNRWA, and they’re guaranteeing that the money goes without any action to stop support for terrorism within that organization. It needs to change.