The Trudeau government renewed its support of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) last week, a controversial organization with deep ties to Hamas.

“This assistance includes up to $100 million over 4 years to deliver core programs that support basic education, health, social services and livelihood opportunities and protect the rights of Palestinian refugees,” a government of Canada news release reads. 

Advocates are warning that the Trudeau government’s Palestinian aid money often makes its way into the hands of terrorist groups like Hamas, making Canada an indirect state sponsor of terror.

However, advocates such as the Centre of Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) are warning the government about its continued support for UNRWA. 

“CIJA supports legitimate Canadian government efforts to assist Palestinians in providing measures such as food security and healthcare,” said David Cooper, CIJA’s vice president of government relations.

“We remain, however, concerned about continued incidents of incitement by UNRWA staff, their ongoing support of terrorism, and their development and use of problematic educational materials.”

A report published in 2017 from UN Watch was critical of the Trudeau government’s support of UNRWA because teachers and other employees working for the organization engaged in anti-Israeli rhetoric, including calls for its erasure, while glorifying terrorism and even quoting Adolf Hitler.

In a letter addressed to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau from Hillel C. Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, which was dated April 7, 2017, the prime minister was reminded of his “Commitment to exercise stringent oversight of Canada’s UNRWA funding, and to uphold universal values of tolerance and respect.”

“UN Watch is extremely troubled that Canada would fund schools that knowingly employ exponents of racism and terrorism. For its own students, Canada removes teachers of hate from the classroom, prosecuting some for promoting hatred; Palestinian children deserve no less protection,” Neuer’s letter to Trudeau said.

It has been reported that aid money collected by UNRWA intended for Palestinians has even found its way into the hands of Islamist militants like Hamas, which spends the money on weapons used to kill Israelis. The Jewish Policy Center has even said Hamas cannot be weakened without targeting UNRWA, which it also claimed provides Hamas and other extremist groups with logistical assistance.

In May, Barbara Leaf, United States assistant secretary of state for New Eastern Affairs, admitted the Palestinian National Authority, which controls part of the West Bank, runs a so-called “pay-for-slay” program in which terrorists are compensated for killing Israelis. Leaf said that while efforts are being made to stop the program, they have “not yet” succeeded.

Despite the Trudeau government’s promise to enhance due diligence, its continued support for UNRWA— committing $90 million to the organization between 2019 and this year—appears to flout any accountability by maintaining ties with an organization whose past is troubling.


  • Neil Sharma

    Neil is a Toronto-based journalist. Before his most recent stint as STOREYS' senior reporter, he was a regular contributor for the Toronto Star, Toronto Sun, National Post, Vice, Canadian Real Estate Wealth, where he also served as editor-in-chief, and several other publications.