Middle East

Israel: 'Gaza UN worker helped Hamas'

Waheed Borsh Image copyright Israel Security Agency
Image caption Israel said Waheed Borsh used his position to serve Hamas' interests

Israel has charged a UN aid worker from Gaza with using his position to help the militant Hamas movement, in the second such case in a week.

Israel's Shin Bet security agency said Waheed Borsh, an employee with the UN Development Programme (UNDP) in Gaza since 2003, admitted aiding Hamas.

It said he used UN resources to build a military jetty and prioritised rebuilding homes of Hamas members.

Last week Israel charged a Gaza charity chief with diverting funds to Hamas.

It said Mohammed Halabi, World Vision's Gaza project manager, channelled millions of dollars of charity money to military uses. Mr Halabi's lawyer said his client denied the allegations.

In a statement, the UNDP said it was "greatly concerned by the allegation" against Mr Borsh, adding it had "zero tolerance for wrongdoing in all of its programmes and projects".

The organisation said it hoped he would be given a fair trial.

Other suspects

In a statement on Tuesday, Shin Bet (ISA) said Waheed Borsh, 38, had been arrested on 16 July.

It said he had been instructed by Hamas to ensure UNDP projects would benefit the militant group. The ISA said Mr Borsh confessed to carrying out activities that aided Hamas.

This included informing the group when weapons or tunnel openings were found in houses where UNDP workers were operating, it said.

As a result "Hamas would take control of the site and confiscate the arms and other materials," the ISA said.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption The UNDP is helping rebuild parts of Gaza damaged in conflicts with Israel

Concealed tunnels have been dug by militants for use in carrying out attacks on Israel. Mr Borsh is also alleged to have persuaded his managers to focus on rehabilitating areas where Hamas members live.

Parts of Gaza were heavily damaged in the war between Hamas and Israel in 2014 and are still being rebuilt.

Shin Bet said Mr Borsh had revealed that other Palestinians working for aid organisations were also working for Hamas.

Hamas said the allegations were "incorrect and baseless" and part of Israeli efforts "to tighten the siege of the Gaza Strip by prosecuting international relief organisations".

Israel said it expected the UN to "unequivocally condemn Hamas for exploiting the humanitarian aid system for its own aims and... to ensure that humanitarian activities actually assist those in need in Gaza instead of assisting the terrorist leaders of Hamas".

Hamas (either the organisation as a whole or in some cases its military wing) is designated a terrorist group by Israel, the US, EU, and UK among other countries.