JERUSALEM, Israel – The United Nations agency dedicated to serving Palestinian refugees announced it suspended six of its staffers following a report from a pro-Israel group showing they had written messages on social media in support of the Hamas terror organization in Gaza.
The UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) provides aid and other resources to 1.5 million Palestinian refugees. Israel advocacy groups have long accused the agency of inciting Palestinian children to violence in UNRWA textbooks and curricula.
The report, released by UN Watch, included images of social media posts praising Hamas’ rocket attacks on Israeli civilians, advocating for the slaughter of Israelis and promoting anti-Semitism. The screenshots were taken from the social media pages of people who publicly identified themselves as UNRWA employees.
According to the report, UNRWA teacher Elham Mansour wrote on Facebook in May 2022: “By Allah, by Allah, anyone who can kill and slaughter any Zionist and Israeli criminal, and doesn’t do so, doesn’t deserve to live. Kill them and pursue them everywhere, they are the greatest enemy, criminals, murderers, terrorists… and anyone who signs peace accords, truces and so on with them deserves to be executed.”
Another UNRWA teacher in Jordan, Hana’a Daoud, shared a video in May 2021 of Hamas terrorists. Her caption called them “capable” and asked Allah to “give them strength.” In another post from May 2021, Daoud describes Jews as cowardly and “devoid of wisdom.”
UNRWA said in a statement that the allegations of incitement are currently under review. “Following the Agency’s review of all the social media posts referenced in the report, six staff members were put on administrative leave,” Deputy Commissioner-General Leni Stenseth said on Tuesday.
The agency also suggested that UN Watch deliberately released the report to “disrupt the annual UNRWA pledging conference at United Nations headquarters in New York” and accused the organization of seeking to destroy “lasting peace” in the region.
Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, called for further action against the suspended staff members.
“Teachers who call to murder Jews must be barred from the classroom for life, while these temporary suspensions are just a slap on the wrist,” said Neuer.
“UNRWA is trying to pretend the problem is now gone, while at the same time signaling to Palestinian staff—and to terrorist organizations like Islamic Jihad which pressed UNRWA to reject the UN Watch report—that they don’t really object to the virulent antisemitism of their teachers, which UNRWA and its donors know pervades the agency,” said Neuer.
UNRWA says it has previously taken action against staff members who violate its policies, including fines and bans.
Leaders of the agency warn that UNRWA is facing a financial crisis that jeopardizes its work.
The Trump administration cut funding to UNWRA and called it “irredeemably flawed.” However, the Biden administration has restored funding to UNRWA, including $150 million in economic aid.