February 2, 2024

Senator Ricketts’ Weekly Column: No Taxpayer Funding for Hamas

February 2, 2024

Since the October 7th attack on Israel, I have heard from countless Nebraskans who believe we must support Israel’s fight against Hamas. I agree. Part of that is making sure American foreign policy doesn’t undermine our support for Israel or their efforts to destroy Hamas. Yet, regrettably, that’s exactly what appears to have happened under the Biden administration. President Biden has allowed American tax dollars to go to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), which has been called “effectively a branch of Hamas.”

According to The Wall Street Journal, at least 12 employees of UNRWA had direct connections to Hamas’ October 7th terror attack that murdered 1,200 Israelis and at least 33 Americans. The Journal also reported around 10% of all UNRWA’s Gaza staff had ties to Islamic terror groups. Some of these weren’t even tied to Hamas, but Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a terrorist group that thinks Hamas is too moderate for them. These are outrageous connections.

Of the twelve UNRWA staff who had direct involvement on October 7th, six were part of the wave of terrorists who murdered Israelis. The others helped kidnap Israelis, were tracked to sites where scores of Israeli civilians were shot and killed, or coordinated logistics for the assault, including procuring weapons. According to Israel, one UNRWA Arabic teacher was a Hamas terrorist commander who participated in a terror attack on a Kibbutz where 97 people were murdered and 26 people were taken hostage.

Even before October 7th, UNRWA had been known to employ registered Hamas members. Its schools were found storing Hamas weapons. Its facilities were used as staging grounds for attacks against Israel. Its educators regularly called for the murder of Jews. Its textbooks glorified terrorism, encouraged martyrdom, demonized Israelis, and incited antisemitism.

UNRWA is an irredeemable organization that plays a critical role in Hamas’ terrorist infrastructure. Former President Donald Trump understood this. In 2018, the Trump administration rightly ended American aid to UNRWA. Inconceivably, President Biden reversed course and has given more than $730 million to UNRWA since taking office.

Despite all this new evidence about UNRWA’s involvement on October 7th, the Biden administration has only committed to a temporary pause in funds. This is not enough.

No Nebraskan wants their hard-earned money to fund kidnappers, weapons distributors, and murderers. I believe not one penny more of American tax money should go to supporting an organization with ties to terrorism. Not now. Not ever. 

I’m fighting in the U.S. Senate to permanently ban U.S. taxpayer dollars from funding UNRWA and supporting Hamas’ terrorism. My Stop Support for Hamas Act, which I introduced with Senator Tim Scott (R-SC), would correct the Biden administration’s mistake by permanently ending U.S. funding for UNRWA. I also led 26 fellow Senators in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) demanding the supplemental aid bill must include a permanent ban of U.S. aid to UNRWA.

We must stand with Israel. We need to support their right to defend themselves. We need to stop undermining their efforts. Let’s permanently ban U.S. taxpayer funding of UNRWA and the Hamas fighters working there. Let’s pass my Stop Support for Hamas Act.

My team and I are here to serve you. Contact us anytime by phone at 202-224-4224 or on my website at www.ricketts.senate.gov/contact.

Word Count: 559