The United Nations has suspended and cut the pay of several employees of its agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, following the revelation that they were inciting violence against Israelis and Jews on social media. Pro-Israel advocates have long accused the refugee agency of being politically biased, claiming its local workers were promoting hatred.
UN Watch, which alleges the U.N. is unfairly biased against Israel, produced a report with at least 10 examples of UNRWA employees on Facebook calling for violence. In some of the cases, teachers with UNRWA-run schools posted graphic images encouraging anti-Semitic stereotypes and attacks against Jews. One of the individuals, who identified himself on Facebook as a “Project Support Assistant,” called for Palestinians to “stab Zionist dogs.”
The revelations come as tensions have sharply risen in Israel and the Palestinian territories over the last month. What began as clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police around the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem has since spread throughout cities across Israel and the West Bank. Protests and clashes have led to dozens of deaths and hundreds of injuries among Palestinians, while Israeli civilians and security forces have been targets of random knife attacks.
— UN Watch (@UNWatch) October 22, 2015
UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness initially defended his organization against UN Watch’s accusations, claiming they were “baseless allegations about anti-Semitism,” al-Bawaba reported. But not long after, on Thursday, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced the staff members “have been subject to both remedial and disciplinary action, including suspension and loss of pay.”
— Roz Rothstein (@RozRothstein) October 23, 2015
The U.N. also reportedly worked with a legal team at Facebook to remove profiles falsely claiming to belong to UNRWA employees who had published anti-Semitic posts.
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East was founded in 1949 to meet the needs of a massive refugee population created by the 1948-49 war that established Israel. The organization continues to provide education, health care and social services to some 5 million refugees spread across Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the Palestinian territories. Most of the agency's workers are local Palestinians.