October 7 victims launch $1 billion lawsuit against Unrwa for ‘aiding Hamas’

The lawsuit’s 101 plaintiffs include hostages, Nova festival survivors and families of people who were murdered


Palestinians at the entrance of a Unwra school (Photo by OMAR EL-QATTAA/AFP via Getty Images)

More than 100 victims of the October 7 terror attacks are suing UNRWA for “aiding and abetting” Hamas.

A lawsuit filed in New York today claims UNRWA – the UN organisation which oversees Palestinians – “helped Hamas build up the terror infrastructure and personal that were necessary to carry out the October 7 attack”.

The $1billion lawsuit represents 101 plaintiffs including hostages, Nova festival survivors and families of people who were murdered. It claims UNRWA knew some of its personnel were members of Hamas, that its personnel had taken part in the October 7 massacre and had held Israeli people hostage. It also claims that UNRWA helped radicalise a Palestinian population into supporting terror against Israel through its text books.

While many of the claims have been made by Israel over several years, the lawsuit alleges for the first time that by paying UNRWA staff in cash in American dollars, it had put $1billion of the currency into circulation which enabled Hamas to buy weapons which were used against Israel and also benefitted the terrorist group who took a percentage of money changing.

It accuses UNRWA of “deliberately paying its local personnel in the form of cash US dollars, requiring them to turn to Hamas-affiliated moneychangers to receive the local currency (Israeli shekels) they actually need to be able to make purchases, thus predictably generating millions of dollars per month of additional income for Hamas from the spread charged by the moneychangers – money that was not merely denominated in dollars but was in cash. By doing so they provided Hamas with access to hard US currency which Hamas desperately needed to pay its illicit weapons procurement network to smuggle into Gaza vast quantities of weapons, ammunition, explosives, rockets and the other materials needed by Hamas to perpetuate the October 7 attack as well as numerous other genocidal attacks on civilians.”

The lawsuit, filed by Chicago based law firm MM-Law LLC and New York firm Amini LLC, which specialises in looking at who funds terrorists, insists the lawsuit is not political but determined on the needs of the many victims of the October 7 attacks.

“Plaintiffs understand that there are many politically charged controversies swirling around the October 7 attack and its aftermath,” it says. “Plaintiffs do not come to this court seeking a forum to air political grievances but as ordinary tort for claimants seeking monetary compensation for their inquiries from parties who are liable for those injuries on traditional tort principles.”

While Israel has alleged UNRWA complicity in the Hamas attacks – with Britain and the USA withdrawing funding from the organisation as a result – this case will be the first time those claims will be tested in court.

There are 101 plaintiffs so far, with a further 800 expected to join the lawsuit. The lead plaintiffs include hostage Ditza Heiman who was held by an UNRWA teacher for seven weeks. The lawsuit claims the homeowner said he was a teacher at an UNRWA school for boys and often she was fed with food labelled to show it was for UNRWA schools.

It also includes Nova Festival survivor Talia Biner who has been unable to work since witnessing the bodies of her friends and boyfriend murdered and hearing women being raped and Gadi Kedem who had six members of his family, including his daughter and grandchildren, murdered on the day of the attacks at kibbutz Nir Oz.

The lawsuit names six former and present UNRWA bosses, including Commissioner General Philippe Lazzarini, saying: “Hamas did not carry out these atrocities without assistance. It was aided and abetted by, among others, the above-named defendants who are current or former senior officials [at UNRWA] and UNRWA itself who collectively spent over a decade prior to the October 7 attack helping Hamas built up the terror infrastructure and personnel that were necessary to carry out the October 7 attack.”

It added that UNRWA was “warned repeatedly that their policies were providing assistance to Hamas. In the face of those warnings, defendants continued those very policies.”

UNRWA has repeatedly denied allegations that its aid is being diverted to Hamas or that it teaches hatred in its schools, and has questioned “the motivation of those who make such claims.” The agency has condemned the Hamas attack on October 7 as “abhorrent.”

UNWRA has been contacted for comment on the lawsuit.

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