Israel claims UN funds channelled to Hamas

Hamas denies Israeli allegations that a UN group was exploiting funds in Gaza after a Palestinian UN employee was charged with ‘aiding Hamas’.

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

Palestinian staff of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) drive an official car in front of its headquarters in Gaza City on August 9, 2016

Updated Aug 11, 2016

Hamas denied any involvement with the United Nations on Tuesday after Israeli forces arrested a UN employee in Gaza and charged him with "aiding Hamas."

38-year-old engineer Waheed Borsh, who has worked for the UN Development Programme (UNDP) since 2003, was arrested on July 16 and charged in a civilian court in Israel on Tuesday, an Israeli government statement said.

Israeli Security Agency (ISA) said in a statement on Tuesday that the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) employee confessed to renovating Hamas members’ homes. 

The allegations were rejected by Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri in a press release on Tuesday. Zuhri said that the accusations were “baseless fabrications”, and deemed the Israeli claims a scheme to tighten the siege on Gaza.

He also said it was an attempt to interfere with aid agencies and their flow of funds.

The UNDP said it was "greatly concerned by the allegation," promising in a statement "a thorough internal review of the processes and circumstances surrounding the allegation."

World Vision employee Mohamed al Halabi. Photo by: AFP

The arrest of the UN employee came shortly after Israel’s arrest of an another Palestinian aid worker, Mohamed el Halabi, for diverting money to support Hamas, in a claim that was denied by his organisation, World Vision.

According to Al Jazeera the lawyer of the aid worker said his client was beaten during his interrogation by ISA.

Its president Kevin Jenkins said in a statement that the organisation was conducting an investigation into the allegations but had "not seen any of the evidence."

"World Vision's cumulative operating budget in Gaza for the past 10 years was approximately $22.5 million, which makes the alleged amount of up to $50 million being diverted hard to reconcile," the statement read.

More than two thirds of the population of the Gaza Strip, which Israel has blockaded for a decade, are reliant on some form of aid, according to the United Nations.

TRTWorld and agencies