World, Middle East

Israel arrests UN aid worker for alleged Hamas links

For second time in week, Israel indicts Gaza-based aid worker for allegedly helping Palestinian resistance group

Israel arrests UN aid worker for alleged Hamas links FILE PHOTO


By Kaamil Ahmed


Israel has arrested a U.N. aid worker in the blockaded Gaza Strip, accusing him of supporting Palestinian resistance movement Hamas, Israel’s Shin Bet intelligence agency announced Tuesday. 

The arrest of Waheed Borsh, an engineer for the United Nations Development Project (UNDP), follows last week's indictment of Mohammad al-Halabi, Gaza director of international Christian charity World Vision, who was similarly accused of redirecting some $7 million a year from the charity to Hamas. 

In a statement, Shin Bet claimed Borsh had redirected UNDP aid allocations to Hamas’ military activities, including the construction of a jetty on the Gaza coast for use by Hamas naval units. 

The UNDP, for its part, said in a Tuesday statement that it was concerned by allegations that Borsh had received instructions from Hamas officials.

The organization went on to say it was conducting an internal review of the issue, stressing that Borsh should receive a fair trial.

The UNDP added that the Israeli authorities had alleged that Borsh had complied with a request to move 300 tons of rubble from a UNDP rubble-removal project to a Hamas site. 

Shin Bet has also alleged that other aid workers -- in a number of organizations -- were also working for the Gaza-based resistance group. 

On Monday, World Vision denied Israel’s claims regarding al-Halabi, saying they contained discrepancies. 

"World Vision’s cumulative operating budget in Gaza for the past ten years was approximately $22.5 million, which makes the alleged amount of up to $50 million being diverted [to Hamas] hard to reconcile," World Vision President Kevin Jenkins said in a statement. 

"We still have not seen any of the evidence," he added. "We look forward to an ongoing dialogue to be able to clarify discrepancies and we call for a fair and transparent legal process."

World Vision temporarily suspended its Gaza operations in the wake of the claims, while funding for the charity from Australia and Germany has also been put on hold pending further investigation.

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