By: Max Gelber, United with Israel
It is a long-known fact that many UN workers in Gaza are connected to Hamas and Israel is finally taking action.
Israel on Tuesday informed senior officials in the United Nations (UN) Secretary General’s bureau and heads of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in New York and Israel about the arrest of a Palestinian engineer who worked for the UNDP in Gaza and who is being charged with working for the Hamas terror organization.
Israel’s foreign ministry stated that it had informed these officials of its expectation that the UN, and especially its aid agencies, “will unequivocally condemn Hamas for exploiting the humanitarian aid system for its own aims and will take concrete measures to ensure that humanitarian activities actually assist those in need in Gaza instead of assisting the terrorist leaders of Hamas.”
The Shin Bet (Israel’s Security Agency) publicized on Tuesday that it arrested a humanitarian aid worker from the Gaza Strip in July on charges he was exploiting his position at the UNDP to provide assistance to Hamas.
This is the second such indictment of a Palestinian aid worker operating for Hamas in Gaza in less than a week.
In Gaza, Hamas spokesman Hazem Qasem denied the allegations. “These Israeli claims are baseless and the purpose of these claims is to justify the continued siege on Gaza.”
UNDP said in a statement that it is “greatly concerned” by the allegations and that it has “zero tolerance for wrongdoing” in its programs and projects. “UNDP is conducting a thorough internal review of the processes and circumstances surrounding the allegation,” it said.
Responding to Israel’s arrest of World Vision director in Gaza Mohammed El-Halabi on charges that he siphoned money from the charity to fund Hamas terror activities, the UN Coordinator for Humanitarian Aid and Development Activities Robert Piper stated that the allegations “raise serious concerns for humanitarian organizations working in Gaza.”
“Redirecting relief away from its intended beneficiaries would be a profound betrayal of the trust put in a senior manager by his employer and by the organization’s donors. Everyone would pay a high price for such acts – beneficiaries and the wider aid effort alike,” he said.
“If proven by a due legal process, these actions deserve unreserved condemnation; Gaza’s demoralized and vulnerable citizens deserve so much better,” he added.
He called for El-Halabi to be tried in a “prompt, thorough, independent, impartial and transparent” process.