Israel Crisis Update: Time for UNRWA to be Replaced?

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Israel Crisis Update: Time for UNRWA to be Replaced?

21 March @ 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Israel is reportedly seeking to disband UNRWA and work with other groups to deliver humanitarian aid in Gaza. Sixteen countries suspended $450m in funding to the agency following allegations that 14 staff members participated in the October 7 massacre. However, Sweden and Canada have since said they will resume aid payments, and the European Commission has promised to release €50m in UNRWA funding.

UNRWA employs some 13,000 people in Gaza, providing healthcare, education and other humanitarian aid. However, it has faced longstanding accusations that its operations breach neutrality and that it is too close to Hamas. In February, a Hamas data centre was discovered dug beneath the UNRWA headquarters in Gaza City, with subterranean access from tunnels below a nearby UNRWA school. Officials at UNRWA have denied knowing of the data centre’s existence. Israel has also accused UNRWA of employing some 450 individuals in Gaza who are members of Hamas or of other terror groups.

Can UNRWA be part of the “day after” in Gaza? If not, what can replace it to deliver much-needed humanitarian relief and other services? In an authoritarian environment, there is a constant risk that civil-societal groups will be co-opted and taken over. As such, are there viable alternatives to UNRWA that can offer aid to the Palestinians without being subject to pressure from Hamas – or similar groups?

The Henry Jackson Society
 is pleased to welcome you to this discussion with the renowned experts in the field.



Arsen Ostrovsky is a leading human rights attorney and CEO of the International Legal Forum, an Israel-based NGO and global coalition of lawyers, who have been at the forefront of combating terror, antisemitism and advocating for Israel in the international legal arena, especially in the wake of the October 7th attacks.

Recognized as an expert on international law, Arsen has previously addressed the United Nations, US Congress and the British Parliament, unwaveringly defending the Jewish state and making the case for Israel. Most recently, he was part of the legal team that filed the first UNRWA-related lawsuit in the United States, arsing out of their complicity in the Oct 7 massacre.



Pierre Rehov is the pseudonym of a French–Israeli documentary filmmaker, director and novelist, most known for his movies about the Arab–Israeli conflict and Israeli–Palestinian conflict, its treatment in the media, and about terrorism. He has produced and directed more than two dozen documentaries, some of which have won awards and critical acclaim. His work has been screened at major film festivals around the world, and he has been interviewed by numerous media outlets. As a novelist, he writes mainly in French, his mother tongue, but some of his novels have been translated into English and German.

As a journalist, he has covered the Middle East for over 25 years and has seen firsthand the deception of UNWRA, which poses as an impartial branch of the United Nations, created to help the Palestinian people. He has captured footage of UNWRA aiding and abetting terrorists and smuggling arms to support their terror attacks.



Asaf Romirowsky PhD, is the Executive Director of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME) and the  Association for the Study of the Middle East and Africa (ASMEA). Romirowsky is also a senior nonresident research fellow at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies (BESA)  and a Professor [Affiliate] at the University of Haifa. Trained as a Middle East historian he holds a PhD in Middle East and Mediterranean Studies from King’s College London, UK and has published widely on various aspects of the Arab-Israeli conflict and American foreign policy in the Middle East, as well as on Israeli and Zionist history.

Romirowsky is co-author of Religion, Politics, and the Origins of Palestine Refugee Relief and a contributor to The Case Against Academic Boycotts of Israel. Recently, he co-edited Word Crimes: Reclaiming the Language of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, a special issue of the journal Israel Studies.

Romirowsky’s publicly-engaged scholarship has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, The National Interest, The American Interest, The New Republic, The Times of Israel, Jerusalem Post, Ynet and Tablet among other online and print media outlets.



Barak Seener is a Senior Research Fellow at the Henry Jackson Society and the founder of Strategic Intelligentia and the Gulf Futures Forum. Previously, Barak was a Global Intelligence Manager at HSBC and the Middle East Fellow at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) on whose behalf he has debriefed international defence and security policy makers and diplomats on matters relating to Middle East security. Barak has lectured at NATO as well as the Royal College for Defence Studies. He also staged the world’s first, and hugely successful conference in London at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) on Palestinian statehood. This examined the security Implications for the Region bringing together leading Israelis, Palestinians, US and European representatives in London 2011. Prior to joining RUSI, Barak was one of the Henry Jackson Society’s founders in Westminster and was the Henry Jackson Society’s Greater Middle East Section Director.

Barak published a book in 2018 entitled, ‘Commercial Risks Entering the Iranian Market: Why sanctions make investment in the Islamic Republic of Iran a high-risk proposition.’

Barak has published and provided analysis and expert commentary for a range of international broadcasters including Al-Jazeera, BBC, CNN, Chinese CCTV, Fox News, Sky News, Voice of America, and news outlets such as Bloomberg, Reuters, Associated Press, the Evening Standard, Jerusalem Post and Xinhua.

Barak has published in publications including Newsweek, the National Interest, the American Interest, Jane’s Intelligence Review and Jane’s Islamic Affairs Analyst on counter-terrorism, US-China dynamics, risks to supply chains, globalization and the end of the liberal international order, transatlantic relations, universal jurisdiction, nuclear proliferation and Middle East issues including the Arab Spring, tensions in Libya, Egypt and Syria, strategic and security dynamic between Iran and the Gulf, and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.





The Henry Jackson Society was pleased to host an online discussion event with Arsen Ostrovsky, Pierre Rehov and Dr Asaf Romirowsky, chaired by Barak Seener. Dr Romirowsky opened the discussion by detailing the troubling shift that has taken place within the UNRWA since its founding in 1949, mutating from a neutral refugee agency to a highly problematic propaganda machine that fails to rid terrorist elements from its organisation. Pierre Rehov then drew on his experiences as an independent reporter in Palestine to emphasise the worrying interconnection between corruption, Hamas and UNRWA. Pierre argued that terror organisations are ingrained within civil society as UNRWA school syllabuses fuel the denial of the state of Israel and must be reformed. The conversation turned to Arsen Ostrovsky, who reinforced that due to UNRWA’s links to the violence carried out on October 7th, the organisation has become a significant impediment to peace and an incubator of terror. Consequently, alternative organisations such as the Red Cross and USAID must lead the vital work of supplying aid to the Gazans. In the subsequent Q&A session, questions were asked on the best means to tackle UNRWA issues not only in Gaza but equally in the West Bank and whether any suitable alternative organisations could supersede UNRWA.


This event can only be watched ONLINE. To register your interest please click HERE.



21 March
4:00 pm - 5:00 pm


United Kingdom + Google Map


Arsen Ostrovsky, Pierre Rehov, Dr Asaf Romirowsky


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