Israel says Hamas’s Gaza chief transferring ‘from hideout to hideout’

Space-Separated Links URL URL URL URL Space-Separated Links URL URL URL URL Space-Separated Links url url url url url url url url url url url url url url url url url url url url url url url url

LONDON: With the first lifeline for hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees within the Center East prone to be severed by the tip of February, many households reliant on the UN Reduction and Works Company concern they might fall deeper into poverty — or worse.

Since fleeing the Yarmouk camp in Damascus and transferring to Lebanon in 2015, Ayham, whose identify has been modified to guard his id, and his household of three have been surviving on the modest allowance supplied by UNRWA.

“We’re barely making ends meet although I do some laboring each time I discover it,” Ayham, 43, advised Arab Information. “How are we going to outlive if we lose UNRWA’s month-to-month stipend and the way will my daughter obtain any schooling?”

Ayham’s household have been among the many 31,400 Palestinian refugees who fled to Lebanon from neighboring Syria after protests towards the federal government of President Bashar Assad in 2011 escalated right into a full-blown civil battle.

Shatha, the daughter of 48-year-old Palestinian refugee Issa Al-Loubani, appears to be like out the window of their residence within the Palestinian Yarmuk camp, on the southern outskirts of the Syrian capital Damascus, on November 25, 2020. (AFP/File)

UNRWA has been offering Palestinian refugees in Gaza, the West Financial institution, Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan with a month-to-month money grant of $100 per household, and an extra $27 for every member of the family.

For individuals who have been unable to safe a gradual earnings, the stipend has been all that has stood in the way in which of destitution. Nonetheless, on Jan. 26, the US suspended its funding for UNRWA in response to troubling allegations. A number of different main donors rapidly adopted swimsuit.

Consequently, the UN company, based in 1949 within the wake of the mass exodus of Palestinians throughout the Nakba, will probably need to halt operations, together with within the embattled Gaza Strip, by the tip of the month if funding will not be restored.

The funding suspensions got here after Israeli intelligence alleged that 12 UNRWA workers have been concerned within the Hamas assault of Oct. 7, and that 10 p.c of the company’s 12,000 workers in Gaza had doubled as Hamas or Islamic Jihad operatives.

On Oct. 7, Hamas carried out a shock assault on southern Israel, killing 1,200 folks and taking 240 others captive.

In retaliation, Israel launched a bombing marketing campaign in Gaza, killing greater than 27,000 folks, based on the Gaza Well being Ministry, wounding 66,000 others, and forcibly displacing 85 p.c of the enclave’s 2.2 million inhabitants.

Palestinian refugees collect outdoors the workplaces of the UN company for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, in Beirut on January 30, 2024 to protest towards some international locations’ resolution to cease funding the group. (AFP)

Munir Nuseibah, professor of worldwide legislation at Al-Quds College in Jerusalem, stated chopping UNRWA funds was “unjustifiable.”

He advised Arab Information: “Defunding UNRWA at a time throughout which the Palestinian inhabitants is affected by Israel’s genocidal battle and insurance policies, together with hunger, displays complicity with this crime.

“Simply when the Worldwide Courtroom of Justice ordered permitting humanitarian providers and support entry to Gaza’s civilians, Israel’s allies determined to defund UNRWA.”

After South Africa introduced a case to the ICJ accusing Israel of committing genocide in Gaza, the UN’s highest courtroom ordered Israel to take all measures inside its energy to stop genocidal acts and to permit humanitarian support into the Palestinian enclave.

Some analysts have even accused donor nations of hypocrisy, highlighting events when UN businesses have been caught up in scandals but haven’t misplaced their funding.



  • 1.5m In Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Gaza, and the West Financial institution.
  • 489,292 Hosted by Lebanon.
  • 438,000 Hosted by Syria.
  • 31,400 Have fled Syria and now reside in Lebanon.

Supply: UNRWA

Karam Shaar, a senior fellow on the New Strains Institute, advised Arab Information: “In case you take a look at the conduct of the UN in different international locations and the response of Western governments, relative to the way in which they reacted to what UNRWA might need achieved in Palestine, I believe that reveals a predisposition to principally reduce the help on Palestinians.

“It additionally, to my thoughts, reveals a stage of hypocrisy. Has the UN been implicated previously with vital scandals? After all. However is the answer to simply reduce the funds with out establishing various channels for a inhabitants that’s successfully below siege from all instructions? That’s inhumane.”

UNRWA helps round 6 million Palestinian refugees all through the area. Analysts count on the influence of the defunding of its providers shall be keenly felt by these international locations internet hosting displaced households.

There have been 489,292 Palestinian refugees registered in Lebanon as of March 2023, and 575,234 in Syria as of July 2022, based on UNRWA figures. An estimated 438,000 stay in Syria.

A Palestinian refugee holds a placard at a college belonging to UNRWA within the city of Sebline east of the southern Lebanese port of Saida, on March 12, 2018, throughout a protest towards US support cuts to the group. (AFP)

Mohammad Al-Asadi, a Germany-based analysis economist on the Syrian Middle for Coverage Analysis, famous that the suspension of UNRWA funding “may have a devastating influence on the lives and livelihoods of Palestinian refugees dwelling in Syria and Lebanon, because the overwhelming majority of them are susceptible.”

He advised Arab Information: “UNRWA is the only supplier of money transfers and meals baskets to Palestinian refugees affected by the Syrian battle.

“Tens of hundreds of households depend on this support to safe fundamental vitamin wants. Suspending support to those households will push them instantly beneath abject poverty stage.”

Syria’s financial system has been dropped at its knees by greater than a decade of combating, sanctions, and isolation. The World Financial institution reclassified Syria in 2018 as a low-income nation. Between 2010 and 2020, its gross home product shrank by greater than a half.

A schoolboy holds a Palestinian flag as he stands with others sporting Palestinian keffiyeh scarves throughout a sit-in protest on the Shatila camp for Palestinian refugees within the southern suburb of Beirut on November 7, 2023. (AFP)

Though Palestinian refugees in Syria have the identical rights as Syrian residents by way of employment, commerce, and entry to civil service positions and public providers, Al-Asadi stated that shutting down UNRWA operations “may have a considerable influence on rising poverty incidence within the nation, notably amongst Palestinian refugees.”

He identified that ceasing UNRWA operations in Syria would “go away hundreds of breadwinners unemployed, as UNRWA is a serious employer of Palestinians and Syrians in its faculties, medical clinics, and vocational coaching facilities.”

He added that it will additionally power the company to droop its widespread vocational coaching applications, “leaving hundreds of younger Palestinian refugees unequipped in an financial system the place the unemployment charge exceeds 40 p.c, based on SCPR estimates.”

Al-Asadi stated: “The confluence of rising unemployment, the cessation of meals and money help, and the unattainable healthcare and schooling providers could be very prone to compel a major inflow of Palestinian refugees in Syria and Lebanon throughout the Mediterranean to Europe.”

Moreover, for each Syria and Lebanon, it “will trigger a extreme shock to the human capital reserve in these two international locations, as UNRWA is the first supplier of schooling and healthcare providers for Palestinian refugees.

“This may go away tons of of hundreds of households with out entry to reasonably priced life-saving healthcare providers. The already overcrowded schooling programs in each international locations don’t have any capability to embed tens of hundreds of scholars.

“That is notably problematic in Lebanon, the place public-sector-led faculties host round 500,000 school-aged Syrian refugees.”

A lady sits along with her little one after fleeing the Ain El-Helweh Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon’s southern coastal metropolis of Sidon on September 9, 2023, amid renewed clashes between the Fatah motion and Islamists. (AFP)

Lebanese analyst Nasser Elamine advised Arab Information that in Lebanon, “defunding UNRWA means over 301,400 Palestinian refugees, the vast majority of whom already stay below the poverty line, based on the UN, will successfully be deserted by the world with no units to safe the minimal necessities of day by day life, together with schooling and healthcare.”

Elamine stated: “Palestinian refugees in Lebanon are denied entry to work in trade-union-regulated professions, and with an actual financial system that hardly produces jobs as it’s (not to mention following the 2019 financial collapse), Palestinians may have no approach to even start to fill the hole {that a} pause in UNRWA funding will go away.”

Lebanon prohibits Palestinian refugees from collaborating in round 70 occupations regulated by its commerce unions, together with within the fields of engineering, legislation, and medication.

Pulling the monetary plug on UNRWA is prone to have an hostile influence on the Lebanese financial system, which has been within the throes of a ruinous monetary disaster since 2019.

Elamine famous that the unemployment charge in Lebanon was “already at round 30 p.c of the inhabitants, whereas labor power participation was at solely 43 p.c in 2022, based on UNICEF, and the multidimensional poverty charge is at 81 p.c,” as per information from the UN Financial and Social Fee for Western Asia.

“For the final yr or so, Lebanon has managed to arrange a facade of disaster normalization by successfully dollarizing half of its financial system.

“UNRWA was answerable for bringing hundreds of thousands of {dollars}’ value of laborious currencies month-to-month into Lebanon by Lebanese banks the place they might be spent within the type of salaries, initiatives, academic and well being providers, as nicely funds for small companies.

“On high of that, the Lebanese state would obtain a phase of these funds in return for permitting refugees to stay within the nation. The sudden disappearance of those funds will essentially go away the financial system in shock — however to what extent stays to be decided.”

A handout image launched by UNRWA on April 17, 2015 and brought the day earlier than reveals displaced folks from the close by Yarmuk Palestinian refugee camp queuing to obtain support from the group in Yalda, south of Damascus. (AFP) 

In response to UNRWA officers, the company had already reached a “hazard zone” in 2022 after greater than a decade of underfunding. Final yr, donations coated simply 36 p.c of its price range.

Past the humanitarian providers supplied by UNRWA, Lebanese economist Nadim Shehadi advised Arab Information that the company’s significance lay primarily in being “the reminiscence” of the Palestinian refugee inhabitants and a key entity for resolving the Palestinian challenge.

He stated: “As an establishment, UNRWA is extraordinarily necessary for any future settlement of the Palestinian query. UNRWA has the small print and information of each Palestinian household — of each Palestinian refugee.”

Article 11 of UN Decision 194 (III) entitles Palestinian refugees to both the fitting to return to their properties or to be resettled and obtain compensation. Shehadi identified that the knowledge held by UNRWA was important to the implementation of the article.

“Any answer (to the Palestinian challenge) must deal with the refugee challenge. It’s the fundamental stumbling block for a complete answer, and that answer, for being carried out, wants the information and the mechanism that solely UNRWA can present,” he added.