President Joe Biden’s State Department approved a substantial aid package worth $75 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) on October 3, just days after the U.S. intelligence community warned of growing concerns about escalating rocket attacks by Hamas, according to reports.
According to The Daily Caller, Secretary of State Antony Blinken signed off on the aid package despite objections from Republican officials who argued that UNRWA had been co-opted by Hamas to facilitate terrorism and radicalism, as reported by Haaretz on October 4.
The concerns were exacerbated by a U.S. intelligence assessment on September 28, which indicated that Hamas was preparing to intensify missile attacks targeting Israel, CNN reported.
The aid package, as mentioned in a UNRWA U.S. arm’s X post on October 3, was intended to provide food assistance to people in the Gaza Strip. However, critics have argued that UNRWA has a history of affiliations with Hamas and other anti-Semitic elements.
The New York Times reported that neither the president nor other key decision-makers were briefed on a September 28 intelligence warning, which reportedly lacked specific details about the impending Hamas attacks.
The intelligence community later issued a more comprehensive report on October 5, which was shared with policymakers and lawmakers; however, key officials were still not briefed on the report.
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Amidst these developments, intelligence officials received information from Israel about “unusual activity” by Hamas on October 6, just a day before the attacks, though it remains unclear which officials were briefed, according to The Daily Caller.
Idaho Sen. Jim Risch, the highest-ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, had previously imposed holds on the $75 million Palestine funding, citing concerns about UNRWA’s connections to terrorist organizations and promotion of anti-Semitism.
“UNRWA has a long history of employing people connected to terrorist movements like Hamas, promoting anti-Semitic textbooks, and using its schools to store Hamas weapons,” Risch said. “It is unthinkable that U.S. taxpayer dollars would be used to help fund such an organization.”
However, Democrats and UNRWA officials exerted pressure on the State Department to release the aid package, highlighting the potential humanitarian catastrophe in Palestinian territories if the funding was withheld.
According to The Daily Caller, the Biden administration, while facing these pressures, was not legally obligated to adhere to the hold, as it falls under the discretion of the executive branch.
Senator Risch has reiterated his concerns, expressing his commitment to prevent “U.S. funds from supporting organizations like UNRWA, which promote anti-Semitism.”
This news article was partially created with the assistance of artificial intelligence and edited and fact-checked by a human editor.