Fun Run for Hamas-Run Gaza

U.N. relief agency sponsors 5K to benefit Gaza Strip
May 29, 2013

A group affiliated with a U.N. relief agency that has been accused of supporting anti-Israel views will host a 5K event to benefit the Gaza Strip — which is currently governed by terror group Hamas — next month.

The "2013 Gaza Solidarity 5K" on June 8 at Rock Creek Park in Washington, D.C., will benefit the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). American Friends of UNRWA, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that raises money, holds events, and promotes online petitions for the agency, has contributed $66,000 to the event from corporate sponsors.

Money raised by the event will finance a counseling program for youth suffering from PTSD after fighting between Israel and Hamas terrorists in Gaza last year, according to a flyer for the event. UNRWA describes itself as an advocacy group for Palestinian refugees and claims it does not take sides in the conflict with Israel.

However, recent events have raised concerns about the agency’s neutrality. Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) reported earlier this month that Ann Dismorr, director of UNRWA Affairs in Lebanon, posed with a map of "Palestine" that excluded the state of Israel.

The map labeled the territories controlled by both the Palestinian Authority and Israel as "Arab Palestine" and included the Palestinian flag, according to PMW. Neighboring countries such as Syria and Lebanon were designated, but not Israel.

UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness denied that the map intentionally excluded Israel in a statement posted on the agency’s website.

"UNRWA categorically rejects accusations in the media that the Agency is ‘erasing Israel from the map’ because its officials and stakeholders stood next to a map which does not show Israel," Gunness said in his statement. "The map in question is an embroidery depicting a pre-1948 map and therefore ante-dates the creation of the state of Israel."

PMW pushed back against this response, noting that the map would have contained a British flag, and not a Palestinian one, if it predated Israel’s creation.

American Friends of UNRWA could not be reached for comment.

Editor's Note, June 3: The headline has been updated.