Israel Informed UN of Arrest of Official Suspected of Aiding Hamas, Demands Inquiry

Israel tells senior UN officials that it expects the UN to ensure that its humanitarian efforts in Gaza reach those in need, not Hamas.

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United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon (C) visits a UN-run school where Palestinians, whose houses were destroyed during a seven-week Israeli offensive, take refuge in Gaza City October 14, 2014.Credit: Reuters

Israel's Foreign Ministry informed the United Nations a number of days ago of the arrest of a UN Development Program official, suspected of using his role in the group to help Hamas.

The ministry's spokesman, Emmanuel Nahshon, said the head of the UNDP was informed, alongside officials from the office of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

Nahshon added that Israel stressed before the senior UN officials that it expects the issue be investigated and that real actions be taken to make sure the UN's humanitarian efforts in Gaza reach those in need and are not used to help Hamas.

 Nahshon further noted that Israel stressed that it expects the UN to publish an immediate condemnation of Hamas' abuse of international aid to Gaza.

According to the Shin Bet statement published Tuesday, Wahid Burish, a 38-year-old from the Jabaliya refugee camp in Gaza, was arrested last month for different activities the agency describes as being supportive of Hamas.

The indictment filed against Burish in a Be'er Sheva court accuses him of aiding the terror group.

The Shin Bet claims that in 2014 Burish was instructed by Hamas to apply for an engineer position at the UN Development Program in charge of renovating houses damaged during conflict with Israel. 

According to the Shin Bet, Burish abused his power to help Hamas, either by renovating their houses or informing them of such renovations when they held benefit for the group. For example, he allegedly informed Hamas that armaments or tunnel entrances were found in homes under the UNDP's authority so that the group could commandeer the site, in clear contradiction of the UN organization's mandate. The Shin Bet also accuses Burish of creating a makeshift dry dock in Gaza for Hamas using UN resources.

"The investigation," the Shin Bet said, "exemplifies the manner in which Hamas takes advantage of international aid agencies' resources, intended to serve as humanitarian aide for Gaza's civilian population.

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