April 25, 2024
Funds

Congress preps probe of taxpayer funds for Hamas


A Palestinian youth walks inside a tunnel used for military exercises during a weapon exhibition at a Hamas-run youth summer camp in Gaza City in 2016. An extensive labyrinth of tunnels built by Hamas stretches across the dense neighborhoods of the Gaza Strip, hiding terrorists, their missile arsenal and the hostages they hold after an unprecedented Oct. 7 attack on Israel. (AP Photo/Adel Hana, File)

It emerged over the weekend that the House Foreign Affairs Committee plans to investigate the use of American taxpayers’ dollars to fund the Murder, Incorporated that is Hamas. With the revelations that billions of donor dollars that were supposed to be used for humanitarian aid for Gazans have instead been diverted to construct a network of terror tunnels spanning several hundred miles, it’s clear that such an investigation is long overdue. And while they complain with justification that the last year in Congress has been utterly dysfunctional, Democrats ought to join the Republicans who are initiating the investigation, and make it a fully bipartisan one.

When it comes to the Mideast, U.N. agencies have modeled moral rot for decades, so investigating the UN looking for corruption and the abetting of terror is shooting fish in a barrel. The Committee intends to focus on UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, which is in charge of aiding Palestinian refugees in Gaza. In point of fact, there aren’t actually any Palestinian refugees in Gaza as the word “refugee” is commonly understood. Gaza’s population consists of those whose families have lived there since time immemorial, as well as the descendants of Palestinians who moved to Gaza 75 years ago to escape the fighting that followed five Arab nations’ invasion of Israel in 1948 for the purpose of annihilating it.

Decade after decade, the impoverished residents of Gaza have been abandoned by petrodollar-flush Arab countries that declined to help them, even as Israel was absorbing 850,000 Jewish refugees from the Arab countries that expelled them starting in 1948. Gazans sat mired in dreadful poverty before 1948, and the same between 1948 and 1967, when they were administered by Egypt. They sat mired in poverty after 1967, when Arab countries commenced another war against Israel, ending with Gaza under Israeli control. When Israel forced 11,000 of its citizens to leave Gaza in 2005 in order to facilitate an independent Palestinian state linked to the West Bank, Hamas violently torpedoed that idea, seizing control of Gaza and pledging that it would never permit Israel to exist within any borders, period.

UNRWA is a target-rich subject for a Congressional investigation if ever there were one. Americans have contributed many hundreds of millions of dollars to the billions that have been forked over to UNRWA for humanitarian aid, only to have those billions ripped off by Hamas – or handed to it. Hamas leaders have literally taken the money and run, absconding with several billions to lavish residences in Qatar. Another $2 billion to $4 billion has been used by Hamas to construct those tunnels, in which Hamas gunmen hide while Gazans starve.

The tunnels are located under and next to UNRWA schools, hospitals and community centers – which are used not only to store Hamas rockets but to fire them at Israeli civilians. UNRWA spokesmen claim that this is all news to them – just like the summer camps UNRWA runs which, according the monitor group UN Watch, are used to “regularly call to murder Jews, glorify terrorism, encourage martyrdom (and) incite anti-Semitism.” Any post-Hamas scenario in Gaza will have to include the dismantling of UNRWA and its replacement with an agency that actually helps Gazans and promotes peace.

While the Committee is at it, it can investigate Qatar. “For more than a decade,” writes former national security official Richard Goldberg in Commentary Magazine, “Qatar pumped hundreds of millions of dollars into Hamas on the promise that it would moderate the group. That was a scam. Hamas used the money to build the terror tunnel networks we see today. The blood of 5,000 Israeli dead and wounded, including American citizens, is on Qatar as much as Iran.” The Committee’s spotlight on Qatar will not spread holiday cheer to American universities, many of which eagerly solicit and happily accept billions in Qatari donations – and which are pleased to convey their appreciation.

This is an investigation not only worthy, but critical. Democrats should promptly serve notice that they stand shoulder to shoulder with their Republican colleagues in conducting it.

Jeff Robbins is a Boston lawyer and former U.S. delegate to the United Nations Human Rights Commission.

 

 



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