Palestinian UNRWA revolt reaches Judea-Samaria

After 'refugees' in Lebanon shut offices over no more free health care, new protest is to block UNRWA cars and facilities over cash card.

Ari Yashar,

UNRWA offices in Gaza
UNRWA offices in Gaza
Reuters

Crippling protests by "Palestinian refugees" in Lebanon last week over a change in UNRWA perks and benefits appears to be spreading, as this week "refugees" in Judea and Samaria are launching a campaign of their own.

Offices of UNRWA, a UN body established only to deal with the roughly 800,000 Arabs who left Israel during the 1948 War of Independence, were closed by the protests in Lebanon last Thursday and Friday, over a new policy requiring the "refugees" to pay a limited co-payment on medical treatment.

Now on Sunday the popular committees of the Palestinian "refugee camps" in Judea and Samaria announced they will harass UNRWA over its decision to replace its food distribution program in the "camps" with a cash card system.

Husni Odeh, a spokesperson for the committees, told Ma'an News Agency that they had informed UNRWA of the protest, which is to last from Monday until Friday.

As part of the protest the "refugees" will block UNRWA cars from moving inside Judea and Samaria, will close all UNRWA warehouses, social affairs offices, and "camp" directors' offices in the region.

According to Odeh, the crippling protest follows several warnings to the UNRWA demanding it retract its decision to change the benefits.

But ironically, the change actually ends up providing the "refugees" with even more perks - instead of the $111 per year granted in the form of a food basket, the new program gives $130 a year through the cash card in four annual cycles.

Back in April, Odeh admitted the benefits were greater, saying, "we do not refuse the decision itself, but the way it was imposed on us. We know it is for the good of the refugees, but we still need answers from UNRWA.”

At the time, he said the decision to give cash cards to 36,120 aid recipients would put the jobs of 300 to 400 employees at UNRWA distribution centers in danger, and announced that the committees intend to protest.

"Refugees have suffered enough"

UNRWA spokesperson Chris Gunness told Ma'an on Sunday that the protests were misplaced.

"Refugees have suffered enough and imposing measures that restrict services will only make them suffer more. We need to make an effort to resolve UNRWA program issues in a manner which allows us to continue serving refugees," he said.

The new cash card system will allow the UN body to give services with "greater dignity as well as greater autonomy," added Gunness.

Around 775,000 Arab residents of Judea and Samaria are registered as "refuees" by the UN, and UNRWA runs 19 "camps" in the region.

Investigative journalist David Bedein revealed to Arutz Sheva last month that one of those UNRWA facilities located near Bethlehem, which houses the school that was attended by the Palestinian terrorist responsible for a recent bus bombing in Jerusalem, celebrated the bomber in a massive event. 

Bedein detailed how the Israeli press ignored the event, even as the Israeli government refuses to crack down on UNRWA's blatant terror incitement by conditioning continued funding on an ending of the incitement.

UNRWA has radically different policies from the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), which treats all other refugees worldwide, and as a result the now five million descendants of "Palestinian refugees" retain that refugee status and are not integrated into their host nations.

No UN body was formed to help the 850,000 Jewish refugees who were violently forced from Arab countries following the establishment of the modern Jewish state. In that expulsion ancient Jewish communities, some dating back to Temple times, were forcibly uprooted and in the process had their fortunes stolen.




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