Israel is trying to designate UNRWA a ‘terror group’

  • Post last modified:June 3, 2024
  • Reading time:5 mins read

A bill that would designate the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) as a terrorist organisation has passed a preliminary reading in Israel’s parliament.

Israel: attempting to bring down a UN agency

Another bill that would strip the UN organisation of immunities and end its diplomatic ties with Israel also passed a preliminary reading.

At the same time, the so-called Israel Land Authority has demanded that UNRWA leave its premises in occupied East Jerusalem for ‘operating on state land without consent’.

That’s despite the UN Security Council previously reaffirming that it is Israeli settlements in territory that it occupied after 1967 that are a “flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the vision of two States living side-by-side in peace and security, within internationally recognized borders”.

In attempting to remove the UNRWA premises, Israel appears to be reversing reality. Apparently UNRWA is operating on Israeli state land, rather than it operating on Palestinian land.

Israel’s two parliamentary bills would criminalise the UN agency, its staff and activities, banning it from operating in Israel. With Gaza and the West Bank including East Jerusalem under occupation, this would further inhibit UNRWA’s operation.

The UN agency delivers education, social services, healthcare, and refugee camps in Palestine. 1.7 million Gazans rely on it because most Palestinians in Gaza are refugees from elsewhere in what was Palestine.

They are refugees because Israel has colonised Palestine since 1948 through displacement and mass slaughter. Other than Gaza and the West Bank, what was Palestine is now Israel in an ongoing grab of land and resources.

Killing UN staff members

To support its attempted delegitimisation of UNRWA, Israel has accused several of the agency’s 13,000 staff of involvement in the Oct 7 Hamas attack. But Israel has still not provided any evidence for this.

By contrast, as part of its genocidal assault on Palestine, Israel has killed 192 UNRWA staff members since Oct 7. It has also damaged or destroyed at least 179 UNRWA premises. On top of that, Israel has also conducted controlled demolitions of UNRWA schools.

Its allegations against UNRWA led Western countries to stop funding the UN organisation. But while the EU and most countries have reinstated funding, the UK and the US have continued to freeze it.

UNRWA stands in the way of Israel’s ethnic cleansing of Palestinian people.

The idea the US and the UK should be imposing sanctions on this UN aid organisation, rather than on Israel for its genocidal campaign of destruction, shows Western politicians are complicit.

Now the state has stepped up its demonisation of UNRWA, we must defend it as an essential life-line for Palestinian people.

Featured image via Al Jazeera English – YouTube

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