Photo by Eitan Elhadez-Barak/TPS on 22 June, 2022

Legislation Labeling UNRWA a ‘Terror Organization’ Passes Knesset Committee

Public By Pesach Benson • 9 July, 2024

Jerusalem, 9 July, 2024 (TPS) -- The Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee unanimously approved legislation designating the UN Relief and Works Agency a “terror organization” on Tuesday. The bill now heads to the Knesset plenum for its first reading.

In addition to designating the agency as a terror organization, the legislation would also strip UNRWA of its diplomatic immunity, tax-exempt status, and other legal benefits.

“UNRWA’s crimes on October 7 and the agency’s cooperation over the years with the terrorist organizations are unforgivable. There is no other way to define them except as a terrorist organization and they must be immediately removed from the law,” said MK Yulia Malinovsky, who initiated the legislation.

“An organization whose employees, social workers, doctors and teachers during the day are terrorists at night is a terrorist organization for all intents and purposes,” the Yisrael Beiteinu lawmaker added.

UNRWA, which supports Palestinian refugees, has been under fire for months, with Israeli officials demanding the agency be stripped of its authority in Gaza and defunded amid revelations that members of the agency’s staff participated in Hamas’s October 7 attacks. The Israeli government is bypassing UNRWA in distributing humanitarian aid.

Israel’s largest bank froze UNRWA’s account in February over suspicious financial transfers that the agency failed to adequately explain. That same month, Israeli forces discovered a Hamas complex located directly under the UNRWA’s Gaza City headquarters and connected directly to the agency’s electricity system. The facility included numerous computer servers belonging to the terror group.

More than 100 survivors of Hamas’s October 7 attacks filed a $1 billion lawsuit against UNRWA, accusing the agency of “aiding and abetting” the terror group.

The Israel Lands Authority in May ordered UNRWA to vacate its Jerusalem offices over violations of its lease.

Palestinian refugees are the only refugee population with its own dedicated UN agency. The rest of the world’s refugees fall under the mandate of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. Israeli officials have called for UNRWA to be closed and for Palestinian refugees to be brought under the responsibility of the UNHCR.

At least 1,200 people were killed, and 252 Israelis and foreigners were taken hostage in Hamas’s attacks on Israeli communities near the Gaza border on October 7. Of the 116 remaining hostages, more than 30 are believed dead.