The decision taken at the end of December 2005, by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) to provide a large increase in salaries for its thousands of workers, contributes directly to HAMASâ€™ coffers. The significant raise takes effect this month.The 7.5 â€“ 21% increase for UNRWAâ€™s workers was ostensibly enacted to bring their salaries closer to the much higher level of Palestinian Authority employees. UNRWA is â€œthe second biggest employer” in Gaza after the Palestinian Authority.
The UNRWA raise also has had the dire effect of increasing UN funding to HAMAS. Most UNRWA workers in Gaza â€“ in fact 90 percent – voted for HAMAS in their 2003 union elections. HAMAS also runs the unionâ€™s executive committee, and controls 23 of the 27 seats in of the workersâ€™ representatives in the different sectors, such as teachers, clerks, services, etc.
Since HAMAS deducts membership fees of its activists from their UNRWA salaries, the UNWRA raise contributes directly to the HAMAS budget.
The more HAMAS gains the more Fatah stands to lose. Indeed, a Gaza Fatah leader and candidate for elections in the Khan Yunis refugee camp, Doctor Sallah Bardawil, strongly protested the UNRWA salary increase. On December 29, 2005, Bardawil noted that the HAMAS election campaign is supported directly by fees paid to HAMAS by its UNRWA members. According to Bardawil, HAMAS also finances its activities with additional contributions from the Palestinian public and the Muslim World.
However, since Hamas, like its parent organization, the Muslim Brotherhood, obligates each member to pay dues proportionate to 3 to 5%, of their salary, the raise increases both the Zakat â€“ the obligatory payment of at least 2.5% of their annual income â€“ as well as the membership dues. Thus, the UNRWA workersâ€™ contributions add more funds to the HAMAS campaign chest.
Israel demanded long ago and repeatedly that UNWRA fire workers who are members of the Hamas terror organization. Many of the terrorists and the suicide bombers were either UNRWA employees, or originated from UNRWA run refugee camps and educational institutions. UNWRA denied the charges despite the evidence.
UNRWA, since its establishment in 1949, together with the Arab/Islamist nations, and with the Palestinian Authority since 1993, has been working to preserve and continue the Palestinian refugee problem, rather than eliminating it. Thus, UNRWA maintains the Arab/Israeli conflict. In the latest telling example, even after the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, when the Palestinian Authority refused to help the refugees in the refugee â€œcamps,” despite receiving generous international aid for economic development, UNRWA did not demand that the PA resettle the refugees. For example, the PA received $100 million from the United Arab Emirates (UAE),) to build a new town named Sheikh Khalifa City, in honor of the UAE president on the ruins of MORAG, one of the Israeli settlements. This new city was to house the families of shahids, prisoners, and families harmed by the conflict.
Yet, despite the poor housing conditions in the refugee camps, the Palestinian Authority deliberately refuses to settle these refugees in the new city. The PA maintains this attitude in order to maintain the refugee problem,, and to claim the Palestinian â€œright of return” to Israel. UNRWA plays along with the PA. Moreover, it provides financial support to HAMAS, which is devoted to the perennial Jihad against Israel and the West.
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