Council of Jewish Women backs call to probe UNRWA for actions during Gaza crisis

ICJW sent letters of support to three US senators who have called for an independent investigation into UNRWA’s role during the current round of fighting.

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August 27, 2014 00:00
2 minute read.
Florida Senator Marco Rubio

Florida Senator Marco Rubio. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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NEW YORK – The International Council of Jewish Women has called on US officials to investigate the UN agency responsible for Palestine refugees for its actions during the current Gaza war.

On August 21, ICJW sent letters of support to three US senators who have called for an independent investigation into UNRWA’s role during the current round of fighting between Israel and terrorists in the Gaza Strip. Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Florida), Mark Kirk (R-Illinois) and Ben Cardin (D-Maryland) wrote a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, urging the top US diplomat to investigate the agency.

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On Monday, ICJW also sent a letter to Kerry, throwing its support behind the initiative.

”As taxpayers I think we have the right to question and find out,” ICJW’s Judy Mintz said. “I would point to Hamas using that sensibility that we feel for those UN workers being there, that we feel for the Palestinian loss of life and damage.

“When we learned about their [the senators’] action, we wanted to show our support to them, and to add whatever clout we might have to pressure an investigation,” she said.

The US government must be accountable for how American taxpayer money is used, Kirk said.

“Given UNRWA’s ties to terrorism in the past, US taxpayers deserve immediate answers and full transparency regarding their intentions and actions,” he said.

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“The State Department must make clear to the UN that it needs to take all necessary steps to prevent Hamas from using taxpayer- funded property to launch terror attacks against our allies.”

After terrorists on several occasions fired rocket at Israel from near UNRWA facilities in the Gaza Strip, and the facilities were damaged by Israeli counterattacks, emotions ran high at New York’s UN headquarters and throughout UN agencies around the world.

The secretary-general denounced in the strongest terms any attack on a UN facility, saying there was no excuse for firing on aid workers and refugees. Time and again he emphasized the inviolability of UN premises.

Hamas rockets were found in abandoned UN facilities on three occasions. No refugees were being housed or held in the buildings in which the rockets were found, and the UN is investigating how that was possible.

During an Al Jazeera interview in late July, after the attack on an elementary girl’s school in the Jabalya refugee camp, UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness broke down crying. Eleven UN aid workers were killed over the course of three shellings of UNRWA facilities.

“This is a serious violation of United Nations’ premises that could have had far-reaching human consequences,” Commissioner- General of UNRWA Pierre Krähenbühl said.

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