The Australian government’s pause of funding to UNRWA is irresponsible and shameful

Jan 30, 2024
Palestinian people holding empty bowls try to reach out for food distributed by volunteers at donation point as Israeli attacks Palestinian people holding empty bowls try to reach out for food distributed by volunteers at donation point as Israeli attacks continue in Dair El-Balah, Gaza on January 26, 2024. The UN Agency for Palestinian Refugees UNRWA has termed humanitarian conditions in the Gaza Strip.. Photo by Omar Ashtawy apaimages Dair El-Balah Gaza Strip Palestinian Territory 260124_Dair_EL-Balah_OSH_1_0038 Image: alamy/ xapaimagesxOmarxAshtawyxxapaimagesx

Within 24 hours of an allegation made by Mark Regev, an advisor to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to the BBC last Friday, that 12 employees of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) participated in the October 7 operation, foreign ministers of the US, UK, Canada, Australia, and a few other countries, jumped to announce they are pausing their funding to UNRWA, thus collectively punishing millions of Palestinian refugees throughout the region.

UNRWA has 30,000 employees, of which 13,000 work in Gaza, and provides services encompassing “education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, microfinance and emergency assistance, including in times of armed conflict” to about 5.9 million Palestinian refugees including education to 550,000 students throughout the region.

It is clear that this arbitrary decision, taken by Australia based on unsubstantiated allegations and before UNRWA’s investigation, is in line with Israel’s genocidal war and starvation policy against the Palestinians.

According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, in the last three and half months, Israel has killed 26,795 civilians including 12,345 children and 7,500 women, and wounded 69,445. Among those killed are 337 doctors and health workers, 119 journalists and 152 UNRWA employees. They have forced nearly two million people, out of 2.3 million, to flee their homes, completely or partially destroyed 355,000 homes and buildings, including 141 UNRWA schools and facilities, 25 hospitals, 99 schools and universities, 140 government buildings, 161 mosques, 3 churches, water and electricity stations, the Legislative Council building, the Gaza Municipality building, the public library and theatre, the cultural centre, markets, banks, bakeries, and 195 heritage sites some dating back to 800 BC.

Even roads have been torn up by the Israeli army bulldozers and 18 cemeteries have been wrecked leaving graves ruined, soil upturned, and bodies unearthed. The zoo was not spared destruction and all animals, including rare ones, were killed.

Israel’s destruction and killing during these three and half months is equal to the destruction of more than 117 towers the size of the World Trade Centre, and the killing of nearly nine-fold more Palestinians than Americans killed in 9/11.

In proportion to the Australian, US and Ukrainian populations, in these three and half months, Israel has killed the equivalent of 304 thousand Australians, over 3.9 million Americans and the equivalent of 44 times the number of Ukrainians killed.

Israel has dropped more than 45,000 bombs on Gaza weighing over 65,000 tonnes of explosives; this is equal to more than three nuclear bombs the size of the bomb dropped on the city of Hiroshima.

Yet despite these heinous war crimes and crimes against humanity, in which Israel has violated all international law and norms, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, Opposition Leader Peter Dutton, and parliamentary members of the Labor, Liberal and National Parties lined up to condemn Hamas and did not utter until now, a single word of condemnation against Israel’s state acts of terrorism.

How do the Australian Government and Opposition justify their political, military and financial support for Ukraine against Russian aggression and occupation to the amount of 910 million dollars of our tax money, and on the other hand, take an opposite stand in support of Israel’s aggression and occupation of Palestine? This hypocrisy and double standard are obvious, dangerous, and not in Australia’s national interest.

Israel has never hidden its intention to abolish UNRWA by manufacturing false stories against the UN agency and pressuring Western countries to cease funding it. Israel’s current war is to liquidate the Palestinian cause and eliminate the rights of the Palestinian refugees it has ethnically cleansed to return to their cities, villages, and properties that it stole from them.

When Western countries, including Australia, sponsored the partition of Palestine in the United Nations in 1947 to create a Jewish state, they were not aware that while the Zionists were pretending to accept the partition, they were clandestinely preparing a military plan “Dalet” or Plan D, aiming to ethnically cleanse as many Christian and Muslim Palestinians from their homeland and occupy as much of Palestine as possible beyond the UN partition borders. Through dozens of massacres carried out by Jewish terrorist organisations, the Haganah, Irgun and the Stern Gangs, they ethnically cleansed more than 70% of the Palestinian people and occupied 78% of Palestine or half of what was supposed to be a Palestinian state according to the UN partition.

Feeling betrayed by Zionist leaders, and guilty and responsible for the catastrophe (Al-Nakba) befallen the Palestinians, the countries that supported the creation of Israel in Palestine, passed UN resolution 194 calling on Israel to allow the refugees to return to their cities and villages and pay them compensation. and they established UNRWA in 1949 to provide education, health care, relief and social services the refugees until the fulfilment of the refugees’ right of return in accordance with resolution 194.

As part of the war of starvation, ethnic cleansing, and genocide Israel is waging against the Palestinians to bring them to their knees, and strip them of their inalienable right of return, Israel is reviving its old attempts to destroy UNRWA by creating stories to give justifications to countries, that follow Israel blindly and cover up its crimes to stop their donations to the UN agency and deprive the refugees of critical aid. In this endeavour, they are supported no more than by the group of Anglo-Saxon countries, who created and are in the service of Israel, the ‘five eyes.’

Philippe Lazzarini, head of the UNRWA said the decision threatened UNRWA work across the region, especially in Gaza. “It is shocking to see a suspension of funds to the agency in reaction to allegations against a small group of staff, especially given the immediate action that UNRWA took by terminating their contracts and asking for a transparent independent investigation,” he said in a statement.

“I urge countries who have suspended their funding to reconsider their decisions. The lives of people in Gaza depend on this support and so does regional stability.”

I do not know what one can call the level reached by the US and some Western countries that claim civilisation and values but shamefully submit to appease an oppressive, apartheid colonial regime who without their appeasement and blind support would not have dared to continue violating international law, hundreds of UN resolutions and challenging the international community. They are however rapidly losing the hearts and minds of people both internationally and at home, who are questioning whether their governments represent their values and morals.

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