Lawsuit targeting Unrwa USA aims to 'drain' resources from Palestinians

June 8, 2024
Middle East Eye

...As the humanitarian situation deteriorates inside Gaza, a non-profit in the US is facing a legal battle that could see it lose the ability to be a major source of donations to the UN agency for Palestinian Refugees (Unrwa).

A coalition of pro-Israel groups in the US and families of the captives being held in Gaza is suing Unrwa USA over accusations that the non-profit is "aiding and abetting terrorism" and giving money to Hamas through its financial support to Unrwa. They claim Unrwa USA helped to fund the 7 October attacks against Israel. 

Lawyers representing Unrwa USA filed a motion last week urging the court to dismiss the case on the grounds that the lawsuit does not provide any evidence to support its allegations...

"A goal of these accusations is to distract and also a goal of these lawsuits, in my view, is to really drain the resources of groups," said Diala Shamas, a senior staff attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights, one of the organisations working in defence of Unrwa USA.

"While organisations like Unrwa USA are doing really important work trying to direct maximum humanitarian support to Palestinians in Gaza at a time that they need it the most, they're being distracted by having to defend against these lawsuits," Shamas told Middle East Eye...

A recent report published by the Center for Constitutional Rights and Palestine Legal said US laws around terrorism, following the 9/11 attacks, were largely shaped by a decades-long effort of pro-Israel groups targeting anti-Palestinian activism and sentiments.

"This lawsuit is a sort of small sliver of a much larger story. And that larger story is the use and abuse of US terrorism laws to suppress solidarity with Palestinians and Palestinian advocacy and political expression, as well as Palestinian humanitarian support," Shamas said.

"If you look at the origin story of most of what is kind of considered to be current US anti-terrorism laws, tracing that history, you'll find that efforts to suppress Palestinian solidarity and the Palestine liberation movement have been like a core part of the development of those laws." ...

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Last modified 

June 7, 2024