AMEF hosts Dr. Basem Naim via Zoom meeting entitled ” UNRWA: The UN Mandate and Israeli Plans to Undermine it”

The Asia Middle East Forum held a Zoom meeting yesterday, Wednesday, entitled: “The UN Mandate and Israeli Plans to Undermine it,” and hosted Dr. Basem Naim, the Former Palestinian Minister of Health and one of the leading figures in Hamas.

Dr. Basem Naim gives details about UNRWA and the plans of the Israelis and Americans to undermine this very crucial, important institution caring for more than around six million Palestinian refugees.

What is UNRWA?

UNRWA is the United Nation Works and Relief Agency. This UN institution founded in December 1949 by a UN resolution 402 and dedicated only to care about the Palestinian refugees at that time expelled forcefully from their houses out of Palestine or inside Palestine (internal displacement).

At that time, the number of refugees were registered by UNRWA were around 750,000 refugees in five areas: Gaza strip, West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria. These are the five main operation fields of UNRWA, and it is valid until now.

But today, UNRWA is caring for around six million Palestinian refugees, but the number of refugees is more than six million Palestinians.

The Mission of UNRWA is Political

The UNRWA’s mission is mainly a humanitarian mission. But in the core of this mission, it’s a political mission, because the mandate of UNRWA at that time, it was clear that UNRWA has to care for Palestinian refugees with who has been displaced forcefully from their homes until they return back which is related to the political conflict.

The Mandate of UNRWA

Care, protection and advocacy. These are the three main pillars of the mandate of UNRWA. Protection means that Palestinians in refugee camps somewhere in Lebanon, in Syria, or in Gaza, who are living in a refugee camp, and above their houses, there’s a UN flag, have to be protected according to the international law from any attacks.

“Advocate” also means: UNRWA has to advocate the right of Palestinians to return to their homes because this is the core of their mission.

The Distribution of Refugees

The main bulk of the refugees is in the Gaza Strip and in Jordan. In Jordan, there are 5 million Palestinians refugees; most of them are registered by UNRWA. 75% of the residents of Gaza Strip, which is 2.3 million Palestinians are refugees. Therefore, relatively, the Gaza Strip has the biggest bulk of refugees compared to the residents is in the Gaza Strip.

More than 75% of Palestinians in Gaza are refugees, and depending on the UN facilities and UN services to survive. Then, in the West Bank, and then Lebanon, and lastly, Syria.

Israel Plans to Undermine UNRWA

Israel is accusing UNRWA to have members of Hamas; some of them have participated in the October 7th, some of them have applauded or encouraged resistance on October 7th, or what’s so-called “terror attacks”.

A few years ago, with the shift of the Israeli society or the Israeli political factions and the Israeli leadership more and more towards the left, an opinion is rising and becoming more and more stronger in the Israeli society. In the Israeli leadership, that UNRWA is a problem, is a crucial strategic problem for Israel because UNRWA is perpetuating the issue of UNRWA.

Therefore, they decided to undermine or to dismantle UNRWA. The core of the conflict, between the Palestinians and the Israelis, is a democratic conflict.

Israeli Crimes against UNRWA Employees and Facilities since October 7th

At this time, where most of the 2.3 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, most of them are refugees, are suffering of this horrific aggression and all these atrocious and genocide and in urgent need for food, medicine, and education. At this time, Israel has called on UNRWA to leave the Gaza Strip, and they are not allowed to work or to operate inside Gaza strip.

All around 150-160 of their employees were killed by Israeli forces. Most of their headquarters, storehouses, warehouses and UNRWA shelters and schools were attacked by Israeli bombardment, and thousands of Palestinians killed during this Israeli operation inside UNRWA shelters and facilities.