Lavi, et al. v. UNRWA USA National Committee, Inc.

At a Glance

Date Filed: 

March 8, 2024

Current Status 

UNRWA USA filed a motion to dismiss the case on May 28, 2024.


Luna Droubi and Regina Powers of Beldock Levine & Hoffman LLP
Joseph Pace of J. Pace Law PLLC


UNRWA USA National Committee, Inc.

Case Description 

UNRWA USA National Committee, Inc. (UNRWA USA) is a U.S. nonprofit that supports the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). Following the attacks of October 7, 2023, the plaintiffs sued UNRWA USA, arguing that UNRWA USA aided and abetted terrorism by providing funding for UNRWA.

This lawsuit is part of a broader attack on UNRWA, which has been subjected to decades of false accusations and intensive efforts to defund it. By providing support for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA highlights the ongoing dispossession and displacement of Palestinians resulting from the 1948 Nakba and their right to return to their lands. It is also a crucial source of humanitarian aid, including food, water, and medicine, to people in Gaza during the unfolding genocide.

The UN agency plays an irreplaceable role in the Gaza Strip, providing aid to over 2 million people amid a military campaign that has killed over 35,000, injured 79,000, and displaced an estimated 1.7 million. The impact of the ongoing assault has brought aid delivery, which UNRWA largely manages logistics for, to a standstill. It forced UNRWA to suspend distribution efforts in the besieged city of Rafah due to the depletion of supplies and military operations. Despite being UN humanitarian workers, 189 of UNRWA’s 13,000 staff members in Gaza have also been killed in Israeli airstrikes.

After Israel accused 12 UNRWA employees of having participated in the Hamas attack on October 7, an independent review commissioned by the United Nations reported in April 2024 that Israel had yet to provide evidence supporting its claim that a significant number of agency employees are members of terrorist organizations, a determination that conformed to the findings of U.S. intelligence reports in February 2024. It added that UNRWA has a “more developed approach to neutrality than other similar UN or NGO entities.” The E.U. and 14 of the 16 countries that had suspended funding after the initial accusations resumed their contributions to UNRWA by May 2024.

This lawsuit is a baseless attempt to shut down support from U.S. donors to UNRWA, as Israel is starving Palestinians in the genocide it is committing in Gaza. It has also been brought in the midst of an exponential increase in the U.S. Palestinian solidarity movement, which has highlighted Palestinians' long struggle for justice, and resulting efforts to crackdown on and suppress that advocacy. This lawsuit emerges out of a decades-long and accelerating pattern of using meritless charges of terrorism, particularly under the Anti-Terrorism Act. The Center for Constitutional Rights and our partners at Palestine Legal have documented how anti-Palestinian animus has historically helped shape U.S. antiterrorism law.

For further information on our efforts to challenge the U.S.'s failure to prevent and complicity in the unfolding genocide, as well as our support and defense of Palestinian solidarity advocacy in the U.S., see our Palestinian Solidarity page.

Case Timeline

May 28, 2024
UNRWA USA moves to dismiss case
March 8, 2024
Complaint filed against UNRWA USA
March 8, 2024
Complaint filed against UNRWA USA