Unsubstantiated – UNRWA Refutes Israeli Government’s Sponsored Links Claiming Hamas Infiltration

Israeli government's assertions are appearing as “sponsored links” at the top of Google search results for UNRWA. (Photo: screen grab)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff  

The Israeli government’s assertions appear as “sponsored links” at the top of Google search results for UNRWA. 

The UN Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) has labeled the allegations in Israeli advertisements on Google as “unrealistic,” Anadolu news agency reported. 

UNRWA spokesman Jonathan Fowler confirmed to Anadolu on Thursday that claims of Hamas infiltration into the agency are baseless.

According to Anadolu, the Israeli government’s assertions appear as “sponsored links” at the top of Google search results for UNRWA. 

These links on the Tel Aviv administration’s website make unsubstantiated claims, including that UNRWA employees were involved in the October 7, 2023 operation carried out by the Palestinian Resistance movement Hamas and other groups.

‘We Call for Investigations Into All Violations Against UN’ in Gaza – UNRWA

Fowler explained that the agency has conducted multiple investigations and taken corrective measures whenever allegations of neutrality breaches arose, both during and before the Gaza conflict. 

He stressed that no evidence has been found implicating any UNRWA employees in the October 7 attack on settlements near the Gaza Strip.

He further mentioned that ongoing investigations are looking into allegations against around a dozen employees, emphasizing that these remain allegations regardless of how they are presented. 

An investigation by the United Nations Office of Internal Oversight Services on April 26 cleared one of the 19 UNRWA employees accused by Israel of involvement in the October 7 attack. 

Investigations into four employees were halted due to insufficient evidence provided by Israel.

Independent investigations are still underway for the remaining 14 employees, and so far, no misconduct has been uncovered.

Meanwhile, Google did not respond to Anadolu’s query about whether the ads targeting UNRWA were restricted to searches within the United States. 

UN Report: Israel Lacks Evidence for Allegations Against UNRWA Employees

Google stated that it had reviewed the advertisements and found no violations of its advertising policies.

Promoting False Allegations

Last March, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that social media researchers had found an Israeli influence operation that used fake accounts on a number of platforms to spread Israeli allegations against UNRWA.

According to Haaretz, the campaign was aimed at “amplifying claims and reports regarding the involvement of UNRWA workers” in the October 7 operation.

The Israeli disinformation watchdog group Fake Reporter reportedly found that three ‘news sites’ had been “created especially for the operation”.

“The sites published reports that were copied from other, real news outlets, among them CNN and The Guardian,” the report explained.

Then, hundreds of fake accounts “intensively promoted” content from these websites, along with “screen captures from real ones”.

Over 500 different ‘avatars’, or fake accounts, were found on Facebook, Instagram and X, according to Haaretz.

“They pushed out posts with almost identical wording and links to what Fake Reporter called the ‘three main assets’ in the influence operation: UnFold Magazine, Non-Agenda and The Moral Alliance,” the report noted.

How Israel Uses Fake Social Media Accounts to Promote Allegations against UNRWA – Report

Haaretz reported that “the operation began a few weeks after the war broke out and is still active today.”

During the first weeks of the war, the content published by the ‘three assets’ was described by Haaretz as “being of interest to general progressive audiences.”

“The different avatars retweeted, shared and posted similarly worded posts, and many began their digital lives with a declaration of identity,” the report said.

The avatar shared content on a variety of topics, “including lack of safety for Jewish Americans on college campuses and discrimination against Jewish students”.

Content “dealing directly with the Gaza war” was taken from other websites, like the Jewish Chronicle, the Jerusalem Post, along with mainstream Western media that were “considered liberal-leaning, like CNN, The Guardian and others.”

(PC, Anadolu)

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