Humanitarian aid is air-dropped by US aircraft over the northern Gaza Strip, 07 March 2024. EPA-EFE/MOHAMMED SABER


Spain’s extra €20 million for UNRWA will ‘support Hamas’


Spain said it would provide an extra €20 million to UNRWA, the UN organisation for Palestinian refugees, despite controversial reports about the organisation.

Jake Wallis Simons, editor of weekly The Jewish Chronicle, told Brussels Signal it was “obviously not a good idea” to give millions of euros to UNRWA.

“UNRWA is not set up to care for refugees but serves as a mechanism to delegitimise Israel,” he insisted.

“For Spain to fund UNRWA is to support and enable Hamas,” he claimed, as they “work against any kind of peace, and not for the wellbeing of refugees or security of Palestinians nor any real two-state solution”.

UNRWA is facing a financial crisis as a result of funding-suspensions by numerous countries after credible allegations that a number of its employees were involved in the October 7 attacks by Hamas terrorists on Israel.

Israel said UNRWA employs more than 450 terrorists and the agency admitted it feared Hamas militants were able to store munitions on its premises.

That has not stopped European countries giving more money to UNRWA to help Palestinian civilians.

On March 7, the progressive Spanish Government announced it would provide an additional €20 million to the UN refugee agency in Gaza.

That came days after the European Commission said it would pay a first tranche of €50 million out of the €82 million foreseen for UNRWA for 2024.

The EC said it “took account of the action taken by the UN and the commitments the Commission required from UNRWA”, and was happy with the results.

The same is now true for Spain. During a joint press appearance in Madrid with UNRWA Director Philippe Lazzarini, Spain’s foreign minister Jose Manuel Albares announced the additional funds.

“We will make a new contribution of €20 million to UNRWA to support the organisation in its crucial humanitarian work in Gaza and to provide the food, education and health needs of the nearly six million Palestinian refugees in the region,” he said.

Lazzarini expressed the hope that Spain’s action would persuade countries that had cut off funding for the organisation to reinstate such.

Additionally, he reiterated his demand that additional aid be permitted to enter Gaza through the Israeli border.

“Today we do not have the meaningful, at scale, uninterrupted humanitarian assistance reaching the people in Gaza in desperate need of assistance,” he said.

“The simple answer would be the political will to open the road crossing and to have daily, at scale, convoys and flow of humanitarian assistance going into the Gaza Strip.”

Israel’s defence minister Yoav Gallant publicised in February the names of 12 UNRWA employees that Israel said it had discovered were involved in the October 7 incident.

The Israel Defence Forces shared public audio recordings that implicated two further UNRWA employees. One is allegedly hears telling a friend in Gaza that he had caught a “sabaya”, a term used by Islamic State jihadists to mean “sex slave”.

Wallis Simons pointed out that the Palestinian refugee situation was “unique in the world”, occurring over generations and resulting in a situation where today there are more Palestinian refugees than before Palestinian and Israeli troubles began.

There are around four million Palestinian “refugees”, some seemingly financially well-off, while previously there were only 700,000 such Palestinians in region, he said.

“They are not displaced people but their descendants. If Jewish people used the same measure, every Jewish person on the planet would be a refugee.

“UNRWA has unique guidelines, it is a weaponised organisation, aimed to take away the legitimacy of Israel and is run by Palestinians who are politically motivated, it is a tool of the Palestinian movement,” Wallis Simons claimed.

“It is not focused on human rights – and Hamas terrorists were working with UNRWA.”

According to Wallis Simons, it is even understandable that, within Gaza, the agency has to work with Hamas. “You can’t do much without them. But nonetheless, it is still infiltrated by Hamas,” he said.

“A few weeks ago, a big data centre was discovered under the UNRWA headquarters, which requires a massive organisation, UNRWA claimed to have no idea of this, but that is very unlikely.

Asked about how European countries should support the Palestinian civilians, Wallis Simons said that was “difficult”.

“The people need aid because of the war that was launched by Hamas. But there are other agencies.”

He noted that before the October 7 attacks, different countries had different policies, with some making clear and effective efforts to ensure Hamas did not benefit.

“The solution begins with not supporting UNRWA. Everything is in flux, no one knows what the situation will be like after the war.

“At the moment, the distribution of aid is problematic, and there is a lot of chaos,” Wallis Simons said.

He added that he believed one way forward could lie with local Gazans, with clans and families taking responsibility, and having some Arab countries involved and a reformed Palestinian Authority.

As bad as the current situation is, that might provide an opportunity to create a new reality and work towards peace, he said.

But, he insisted: “Supporting Hamas is the opposite of this, Hamas does not want a two-state solution, they want jihad and constant warfare.

“Countries like Spain and the European Union should find other ways to support Palestine, in line with peace,” Wallis Simons concluded.