Spacious UNRWA facilities, southern Gaza
Spacious UNRWA facilities, southern GazaFlash 90

House Republicans are demanding testimony from the head of UNRWA, the United Nations agency for “Palestinian refugees” following reports that the agency is aiding Hamas with “food, fuel and supplies” meant for humanitarian relief, The New York Post reported on Tuesday.

According to the report, the House Foreign Affairs Committee sent a letter to UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini on Monday asking about “concerning reports” that his agency is funneling “hundreds of millions of dollars” to Hamas and other foreign terrorist organizations.

“Our constituents are horrified that their taxpayer dollars may have, through UNRWA failures, supported Hamas terrorists,” the panel’s chairman, Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), and members Brian Mast (R-FL), Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Darrell Issa (R-CA) wrote in the letter.

“Therefore, we request that you appear before the House Foreign Affairs Committee to answer our questions and address the concerns of the American people. We ask that you indicate your willingness and availability to appear before the Committee by no later than January 24th, 2024.”

A spokeswoman for UNRWA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Created in 1949, UNRWA supplies aid to more than three million of the five million registered “Palestinian refugees” in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and territories assigned to the Palestinian Authority.

However, it is also notorious for its anti-Israel activities. During the 2014 counterterrorism Operation Protective Edge, Hamas rockets were discovered inside a school building run by UNRWA.

Likewise, a booby-trapped UNRWA clinic was detonated, killing three IDF soldiers. Aside from the massive amounts of explosives hidden in the walls of the clinic, it was revealed that it stood on top of dozens of terror tunnels, showing how UNRWA is closely embedded with Hamas.

During the current war against Hamas, it was discovered that a hostage kidnapped by Hamas to Gaza was held for 50 days in the attic of an UNRWA teacher.

In late December, a resident of the Gaza Strip told the IDF that Hamas directly controls UNRWA, saying that “the situation is terrible because the humanitarian people, those responsible for the humanitarian aid, are thieves.”

Under the Trump administration, the US cut a full $300 million in funding to the agency in 2018. The Biden administration, however, changed the policy and announced it intends to resume aid to UNRWA.

Last year, the US increased its financial support for UNRWA, reaching a record $223 million, an increase of $16 million on the previous year.

Asked earlier this month whether the US should rethink its support for UNRWA, White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby defended the work of the organization.

“UNRWA does important work. In fact, they’re doing a lot of heavy lifting right now in terms of trying to get food, water, medicine to the people of Gaza, all up and down the Strip. They’re doing a lot of work, and they’re doing it in harm’s way — very much so in harm’s way,” said Kirby.

“You can’t hold them accountable for the depredations of Hamas and the way Hamas uses civilian infrastructure, including hospitals, for command and control, for storage of weapons, for the holding of hostages,” he added.