Globe & Mail Downplays UNRWA’s Extensive Ties To Palestinian Extremism & Terrorism

January 31, 2024

On Friday, January 26, the Canadian government announced that it would be suspending funding for the United Nations Relief Works Agency (UNRWA), following evidence that a number of UNRWA staff members in the Gaza Strip had participated in Hamas’ October 7 massacre in southern Israel.

While UNRWA purports to assist Palestinians throughout the Middle East with basic humanitarian aid, critics have long pointed to many ties between the agency and Palestinian terrorist groups like Hamas, though this latest scandal is clearly the most damning.

However, little of that criticism made its way into a January 28 article in The Globe and Mail, written by Geoffrey York, the newspaper’s Africa bureau chief entitled: “Former top diplomats criticize Canada’s funding freeze for UN agency in Gaza.”

In the article, York quoted four individuals, all of whom criticized Canada’s funding suspension, all while giving only the barest of background surrounding UNRWA staff member’s involvement in Hamas’ massacre, writing that the controversy arose “after Israel made allegations that a small number of the agency’s staff were involved in the Hamas attack on Israel on Oct. 7.”

One source quoted by York, Alex Neve, a senior fellow at the University of Ottawa’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs and former secretary general of Amnesty International Canada, referred to the funding suspension by Canada (and a growing list of other countries) as “collectively punishing the people of Gaza.”

Without articulating the full details, that could ostensibly look accurate, but the facts of the case are extremely incriminating.

According to media reports, at least six workers of UNRWA directly participated in Hamas’ October 7 terrorist attacks, a dozen had direct connections to the massacre, two helped kidnap Israelis during the assault, and others assisted in coordinating logistics and weapons transfers.

This direct accusation by Israel led the Globe’s reporter to tell readers that “human-rights activists are protesting the Canadian funding freeze, arguing that those under investigation are less than 0.1 per cent of the agency’s 13,000 staff in Gaza.”

Alex Neve is far from an uninterested party; he has previously compared Israel’s creation (described as “Nakba”) to the Holocaust and following October 7, signed a hateful open letter which could reasonably be seen as justifying Hamas terrorism.

Another critic quoted in the article, Nicholas Coghlan, a retired Canadian diplomat, said “I’m shocked that Canada has suspended funding to UNRWA in response to the alleged crimes of 12 employees.”

However, UNRWA’s connections go far beyond October 7. According to some estimates, as many as 10 per cent of employees at the United Nations agency have ties to Palestinian terrorist groups.

Beyond its ties to Palestinian terrorism, UNRWA’s fatal shortcomings have been well established. According to James Lindsay, a former general counsel at the agency, the group has deliberately failed to re-settle Palestinian refugees as a result of a “political decision” that seeks to use them as pawns in the hope of eventually forcing them into Israel.

Additionally, UNRWA – which runs a network of schools for Palestinians across the region – produces textbooks with widespread anti-Israel and antisemitic incitement, a problem so acute that it has been described as a “systematic problem.”

While The Globe & Mail produced other subsequent articles which provided more context surrounding UNRWA and its ties to Palestinian terrorism, this report by Geoffrey York significantly downplayed the extensive evidence of UNRWA staffer’s involvement in Hamas’ October 7 attacks, as well as accusations against the group stretching back many years, which make the recent scandal only the latest, not the only, nail in the coffin of UNRWA’s credibility as a human rights organization.

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