Israel Accuses UNDP Employee of Aiding Hamas

UNDP Special Representative is 'greatly concerned' by Israeli allegations. (Photo: UNDP Logo)

The Israeli government has accused a Palestinian employee of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Gaza on Tuesday of diverting funds to the Hamas movement, nearly a week after it announced Israeli forces had detained a Palestinian NGO worker on similar grounds.

The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement that it had contacted the United Nations over the detention of Waheed al-Bursh, a Palestinian engineer employed by UNDP and his indictment “on charges of using his position to assist the Hamas terrorist organization.”

The Ministry added that it “will take concrete measures to ensure that humanitarian activities actually assist those in need in Gaza instead of assisting the terrorist leaders of Hamas.”

In a statement released later on Tuesday afternoon, Israeli Director-General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dore Gold, stated that al-Bursh was a “humanitarian aid worker” who was detained for providing “material assistance” to Hamas.

Israel has accused al-Bursh of transporting 300 tons of rubble he was handling as part of a UNDP rubble disposal project to a Hamas-run facility. UNDP has reportedly removed more than one million tons of rubble since the 2014 war in Gaza.

UNDP Special Representative of the Administrator Roberto Valent said he was “greatly concerned” by the allegation, stating, “UNDP is committed to the highest standards of transparency and accountability.”

Valent emphasized that al-Bursh “should be accorded all due legal process and has the right to a fair trial.”

Hamas senior spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri vehemently denied Israel’s claims saying: “These Israeli allegations are invalid and untrue, and they are part of Israel’s plan to reinforce the siege on the Gaza Strip by going after international organizations working in Gaza.”

On Thursday, Israel also announced that Muhammad al-Halabi, the head of the Gaza office of Christian NGO, World Vision ,who was detained at a border crossing in June, was being charged with siphoning funds from the organization to Hamas.

In another incident the NGO Save the Children has also announced it is looking into Israeli claims that Hamas has recruited one of its staff.

The UK-based organization said in a statement, “It is probing Israeli claims that Hamas has recruited one of Save the Children staff in Gaza”, adding that the organization takes these claims seriously.

The name of the Palestinian has not been revealed, but some sources suggest that he was in charge of two programs in 2014 with a budget of 1.4m.

(PC, MA’AN, SAMA)

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