Amir al-Mashal, an Hamas official, now currently serves as the head of the UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine) employees union. Al- Mashal recently led the United Professional List, a joint Hamas-Islamic Jihad party, to victory in the latest union elections.
As first reported by David Bedein of the Center for Near East Policy Research, Al-Mashal was specifically placed in this position by the terror group to commandeer the organization’s resources for Hamas.
Mashal’s predecessor — another Hamas official, Dr. Suhail al-Hindi — was suspended from the job after Israel discovered that he was part of Hamas’ elected political leadership.
Since their takeover of the Gaza Strip in 2007, Hamas has worked to infiltrate key organizations in the area, including UNRWA, and now controls most of the main unions. UNRWA’s status is a convenient cover for the terror group’s operations. They also use UNRWA to leverage public support.
In September, 2018, the U.S. cut all funds to UNRWA after the Trump administration labeled the agency “irredeemably flawed.”
UNRWA has a history of failing to fulfill its mandate to support Palestinian refugees and instead promoting terrorism and incitement against Israelis and even sheltering terrorists.
High-level positions within the agency have been given to senior Palestinian terrorists, including members of Hamas. In December 2017, a terror tunnel was discovered under two UNRWA schools and during the 2014 war between Hamas and Israel, at least three Hamas weapons caches were found in UNRWA facilities and another Hamas tunnel was found in a booby-trapped UNRWA clinic.
An internal audit made by the U.N. in 2018 found that UNRWA was particularly vulnerable to “misappropriation, graft and corruption” in its “procurement, partner selection, food and cash distribution, hiring and promotions, and other areas.”
The U.S. was historically the largest donor to UNRWA, contributing more than $350 million in 2017 alone.