UNRWA: Jerusalem school
UNRWA: Jerusalem schoolJamal Awad/Flash90.

The discovery of a Hamas server farm beneath the United Nations Relief and Relief Agency (UNRWA) 's Gaza headquarters culminates a catastrophic few months for the world's largest welfare organization.

Israeli intelligence recently found that at least a dozen UNRWA employees were directly involved in the October 7 massacres, and at least 1,200 had ties to Hamas.

In addition, UN Watch released a report showing that over 3,000 UNRWA employees cheered on the October 7 report on private communications channels.

UNRWA's ties to terror go back decades, as do their denials of the obvious. Commissioner General Phillipe Lazzarini's claim of being unaware that Hamas was literally beneath them with wires running from the headquarters to the server farm through the floor is as absurd as when the headquarters parking lot collapsed in 2014 as a result of Hamas' underground construction or when rockets were found hidden in UNRWA schools twice.

The organization then "strongly and unequivocally" condemned the unnamed "group or groups responsible for this flagrant violation of the inviolability of its premises under international law."

Everyone in UNRWA knew and lied, just as everyone in Gaza knew that Hamas was constructing a 500-kilometer tunnel network that diverted construction materials and goods from international aid. As a result, the international community, through UNRWA, funded a vast portion of Hamas' operations by freeing it to focus on terrorism rather than health and education.

Even international protests are a sham; the organization's largest donor, the United States, suspended only $300,000 of aid, having already paid $121 million, with hundreds of millions more coming this summer. Spain decided to increase its tiny contribution. Qatar only contributes $18 million to UNRWA.

These lies are omnipresent. Whistleblowers, over decades, were threatened and hounded out of the organization and the Middle East while UNRWA functionaries like former spokesman Chris Gunness cried on camera about the plight of the organization and its indispensable mission.

Lies and corruption have been built into UNRWA from the very beginning. The organization's ever-expanding missions revolving around the slippery term "rehabilitation" and its unilateral redefinition of "refugee" to include all Palestinian Arabs and their descendants meant that from the start, it was going to be corrupted for local gain and would play along for its survival. It kept Palestinian Arabs in stasis, inculcating a perpetual victimhood mentality.

The story of the first UNRWA whistleblower is, therefore, instructive.

Lt. General Sir Alexander Galloway, a distinguished British officer, retired as British High Commissioner for Allied Occupied Austria and became UNRWA's head in Jordan in 1951. Just a year later, Galloway was fired at the request of the Jordanian government when he refused to dismiss Western employees and hire locals.

In August of 1952, he published a blunt op-ed in the Daily Telegraph and Morning Post that lambasted UNRWA, the Arab states, and the refugees themselves:

What is the solution? Of course, the problem is difficult. Refugee settlement, except under dictatorship, is a long, expensive business. Somehow or other, the Arab Governments, the United Nations, UNRWA, and some of the refugees have got to face facts.

-There is a need of a change of heart and a better atmosphere.

-There is need to distinguish between a tempting political maneuver and the hard, unpalatable fact that the refugees cannot in the foreseeable future return to their homes in Palestine.

To get this acceptance is a matter of politics: it is beyond the function of UNRWA. Second, a determined effort should be made to get the 'host' countries to take over relief from the Agency, thus freeing it to get on with the much more important task of resettlement.

Galloway's bluntness and insight were also shown in a quote from an interview he gave in 1952 to a group of visiting American church leaders: "It is perfectly clear than the Arab nations do not want to solve the Arab refugee problem. They want to keep it as an open sore, as an affront against the United Nations and as a weapon against Israel. Arab leaders don't give a damn whether the refugees live or die."

Galloway's solution was straightforward:

Give each of the Arab nations where the refugees are to be found an agreed-upon sum of money for their care and resettlement and then let them handle it. If... the United Nations had done this immediately after the conflict—explaining to the Arab states, 'We are sorry it happened, but here is a sum of money for you to take care of the refugees'—the problem might have been solved long ago.

Since the early 1950s, UNRWA has done precisely the opposite, opting for the "tempting political maneuver" of lying to Palestinian Arabs about the future, never demanding that host countries resettle Palestinian Arabs, and instead becoming the Palestinian Arab ministries of health, welfare, education, and, to an astonishing degree, foreign affairs.

UNRWA has some 30,000 employees, with 13,000 in Gaza alone. But with the sudden exposure of UNRWA's terror ties, Israel is demanding the organization be replaced. The United Nations still claims that UNRWA is indispensable: "there is no way any organization can replace or substitute the tremendous capacity, the fabric of UNRWA, their ability and their knowledge of the population in Gaza."

This statement by Sigrid Kaag, the United Nations Senior Humanitarian and Reconstruction Coordinator for Gaza (married to Anis al-Qaq who served as a deputy Minister under Yasser Arafat, ed.), simply demonstrates the point that UNRWA and the UN as a whole are woven completely into Gaza, including Hamas, making any denials of abuses or "reforms" impossible.

Demonstration outside UNRWA in Jerusalem
Demonstration outside UNRWA in JerusalemGlam Video

What comes the day after in Gaza remains unclear, but UNRWA, in its current form, cannot be a part of the solution. UNRWA's ethos of entitlement and the Palestinian identity as permanent refugees—pending the destruction of Israel—cannot continue.

Asaf Romirowskyis the executive director of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME) and the Association for the Study of the Middle East and Africa (ASMEA).

Alex Joffe is the director of strategic initiatives for the Association for the Study of the Middle East and Africa (ASMEA).

This article appeared in The National Interest.