TEL AVIV – The UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, has blamed a tweet praising a Palestinian terrorist on a “brief, unauthorized access” of its official Twitter account.
UNRWA deleted the tweet after an outcry from several monitoring groups. The tweet featured a headline from the Palestine Chronicle charging Israel with removing a memorial “honoring famed Palestinian writer Ghassan Kanafani” in the northern city of Acre.
The memorial was a statue commemorating Kanafani as a Palestinian “intellectual and writer.” Kanafani is thought to have been responsible for a 1972 terror attack at Lod airport. Israeli authorities demanded that local Arab authorities remove the statue, stating “we will not allow memorials in honor of terrorists in Israel.”
Hillel Neuer, the executive director of United Nations watchdog group UN Watch, accused the agency of endorsing Kanafani.
“@UNRWA backs Ghassan Kanafani, spokesman of PFLP terror group when it perpetrated 1972 Lod Airport Massacre, killing 26—17 Christian pilgrims from Puerto Rico, a Canadian citizen & 8 Israelis—and injuring 80,” Neuer tweeted.
“Why do EU, UK, Germany & Canada fund UNRWA?” he added.
.@UNRWA backs Ghassan Kanafani, spokesman of PFLP terror group when it perpetrated 1972 Lod Airport Massacre, killing 26—17 Christian pilgrims from Puerto Rico, a Canadian citizen & 8 Israelis—and injuring 80. Why do EU, UK, Germany & Canada fund UNRWA? https://t.co/7dXIuJsBll pic.twitter.com/QDMW5z3lVe
— Hillel Neuer (@HillelNeuer) December 24, 2018
UNRWA subsequently deleted the original tweet.
Neuer responded to the deletion by calling on European governments, which provide the agency’s main funding since the Trump administration cut aid earlier this year, to demand accountability.
“I hope that UNRWA’s removal of the post indicates its recognition that a supposed UN humanitarian agency has no business tweeting on political controversies — let alone supporting a terrorist involved in mass murder,” Neuer said.
“UNRWA receives massive financial and political support from Britain, Germany, Sweden, the EU and Canada, and they bear responsibility; it’s time for those governments to demand basic accountability,” he added. “We remind UNRWA that support for terrorism constitutes a gross violation of the UN Charter as well as UNRWA’s own internal policies concerning neutrality and impartiality, including with respect to public pronouncements.”
“I’m concerned that the tweet reflects a pattern of action that adversely reflects on UNRWA’s status, integrity, independence and impartiality,” he added, pointing to “numerous reports” that have found that the agency has “a pattern and practice of employing teachers who publish incendiary social media posts glorifying anti-Israel terrorism and antisemitism, which amount to a gross violation of this duty of neutrality.”
“UNRWA must stop engaging in political, racial, religious or ideological controversies.”
UNRWA has come under fire on many occasions for spreading anti-Semitic hate in its schools and employing members of terror organizations and supporters of terror. In February, UN Watch released a 130-page report exposing 40 UNRWA school employees in Gaza and elsewhere who engaged in incitement to terror against Israelis and expressed “anti-Semitism, including by posting Holocaust-denying videos and pictures celebrating Hitler.”
That month the agency also announced the suspension of an UNRWA employee suspected of having been elected a Hamas leader.
The UN itself released a report in 2015 that found Palestinian terror groups used three empty UNRWA schools in Gaza as a weapons cache. Moreover, it said that in at least two cases terrorists “probably” fired rockets at Israel from the schools during the 50-day summer conflict in 2014 between Israel and Hamas.
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert, who is slated to take over from Nikki Haley as envoy to the UN, described UNRWA as “irredeemably flawed.”