Study: UN doesn't screen staff for terrorists

Sunday, February 01, 2009 |  Israel Today Staff

A new study released by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy reveals what many have long suspected and charged: that the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in the Gaza Strip does nothing to determine if potential staff members are also members of terrorist organizations.

Such accusations have been made by Israel and its supporters for years, though providing evidence has been difficult. But the new study carries a lot more weight because its author is James Lindsay, UNRWA's chief legal counsel from 2000 to 2007.

Lindsay writes that while UNRWA is not intentionally hiring terrorists, it is also doing nothing to prevent them from joining its staff.

"UNRWA has taken very few steps to detect and eliminate terrorists from the ranks of its staff or its beneficiaries, and no steps at all to prevent members of terrorist organizations such as Hamas from joining its staff," he wrote. "These failings have occurred not because UNRWA consciously supports terrorism but rather because it is not particularly concerned about the issue."

Israel says that once the terrorists are on UNRWA's staff, they then use the organization and its facilities as cover for their terrorist activities.

In a response to The Jerusalem Post, UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness vigorously denied Lindsay's assertions, insisting that his organization has "a rigorous approach to ensuring that its staff are not involved in militant or political activity."

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