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House GOP demands testimony UNRWA head for Hamas aid allegations

House Republicans are demanding testimony from the head of a United Nations agency that allegedly aids Hamas with “food, fuel and supplies” meant for humanitarian relief amid the terror group’s war against Israel.

The House Foreign Affairs Committee sent a letter to United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) Commissioner-General on Monday asking about “concerning reports” that his agency is funneling “hundreds of millions of dollars” to Hamas and other foreign terrorist organizations.

“Our constituents are horrified that their taxpayer dollars may have, through UNRWA failures, supported Hamas terrorists,” the panel’s chairman, Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), and members Brian Mast (R-Fla.), Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) wrote.

“Therefore, we request that you appear before the House Foreign Affairs Committee to answer our questions and address the concerns of the American people. We ask that you indicate your willingness and availability to appear before the Committee by no later than January 24th, 2024.”

House Republicans are demanding testimony from Philippe Lazzarini, the head of a United Nations agency that allegedly aids Hamas with “food, fuel and supplies” amid its war against Israel. Getty Images
“Our constituents are horrified that their taxpayer dollars may have, through UNRWA failures, supported Hamas terrorists,” the panel wrote in its letter to Lazzarini. POOL/AFP via Getty Images

As the single-largest donor to the humanitarian agency, the Biden administration has faced serious questions about the use of the funds after Hamas’ invasion of Israel on Oct. 7, when 1,200 people — including 33 US citizens — were killed.

The State Department contributed roughly $344 million to UNRWA in 2022 under President Biden after the Trump administration cut off its funding in 2018, referring to it as “irredeemably flawed.”

In total, his administration has provided more than $730 million in US taxpayer money to the organization since January 2021, which provides assistance in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. Biden, 81, also announced another tranche of $100 million in aid to UNRWA last October.

“The days of UNWRA underwriting Palestinian grievance and abetting the diversion of humanitarian aid to terrorist support are over,” Issa told The Post in a statement Tuesday.

“We now know that UNWRA is riddled with terrorist sympathizers, their facilities have stored rockets to use against civilians and their schools have relentlessly taught hatred of the Israeli people.”

“The days of UNWRA underwriting Palestinian grievance and abetting the diversion of humanitarian aid to terrorist support are over,” Issa told The Post in a statement Tuesday. Getty Images

The Republican lawmakers noted recent reports from the Israel Defense Forces and media outlets that show “Hamas terrorists are stealing UNRWA food and supplies intended for humanitarian purposes,” while adding that the “diversion” to the terror group “is not a new problem.”

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Office of Inspector General released a report in November saying it “has identified deliberate interference and efforts to divert humanitarian assistance in regions where FTO [foreign terrorist organization] activity is prevalent.”

“This includes: systemic coercion of aid workers by FTOs; imposition of taxes, duties, and fees on USAID awardees and beneficiaries; and FTO influence over beneficiary selection and internally displaced persons camp management,” the report states.

A federal watchdog “identified deliberate interference and efforts to divert humanitarian assistance in regions where FTO [foreign terrorist organization] activity is prevalent.” AFP via Getty Images

The federal watchdog determined that Biden’s $100 million in funding was at “high-risk for potential diversion” and could “fall into the hands of foreign terrorist organizations (FTOs) including, but not limited to, Hamas.”

It threatened further prosecution by the Justice Department if any improper vetting of grant applications occurred that allowed money to flow to terrorism. 

Past cases have ended in six– or seven-figure settlements with non-governmental groups that violate US terror sanctions.

USAID’s inspector general determined Biden’s $100 million in funding was at “high-risk for potential diversion” and could “fall into the hands of foreign terrorist organizations (FTOs).” AFP via Getty Images

UNRWA has also employed teachers who “regularly call to murder Jews” and teach from textbooks “that glorify terrorism, encourage martyrdom, demonize Israelis and incite antisemitism,” according to a joint March 2023 report by the non-governmental organization UN Watch and the Israeli non-profit Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education.

“We also remain concerned by UNRWA’s repeated failure to uphold United Nations standards of neutrality in the agency’s operations in Gaza,” McCaul and his colleagues added in their letter.

“Hamas tunnels have been found suspiciously close to UNRWA schools, as these terrorists continue to use children and their schools as human shields,” they said, citing a report from the Times of Israel.

The House panel members also cited a Jerusalem Post article that revealed one of the 240 hostages taken by Hamas back to Gaza had been “held in an UNRWA teacher’s attic.” Getty Images

The House panel members also cited a Jerusalem Post article that revealed one of the 240 hostages taken by Hamas back to Gaza had been “held in an UNRWA teacher’s attic” for nearly 50 days before being released to Israel.

A spokeswoman for UNRWA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Written by SaleemBaloch

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