UN Suspends Gaza Staffer Israel Claims Was Elected to Hamas' Leadership

Israeli general demands UNRWA fire Suhail al-Hindi, allegedly elected to Hamas' politburo in a secret vote.

A Palestinian militant marches during a rally marking the 29th anniversary of the founding of the Hamas movement, in Gaza city December 14, 2016.
SUHAIB SALEM/REUTERS

The UN agency for Palestinian refugees suspended a Palestinian staffer Sunday, a spokesman for the agency said as Israel alleged the employee was elected to a leadership position with the Islamist group Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Chris Gunness of UNRWA said Suhail al-Hindi, the chairman of the UNRWA Palestinian workers' union in Gaza and the principal of a UNRWA elementary school, was suspended due to "substantial information" received by the agency.

The Israeli defense body COGAT said al-Hindi was elected to Hamas' politburo in a secret vote this month, though al-Hindi denied that. The UN agency forbids its staff from holding political office and Gunness reportedly said earlier that al-Hindi has denied that he was elected as a Hamas official.

Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, coordinator of government activities in the territories.
Moti Milrod

Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, head of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), said on Sunday the UN must fire one al-Hindi.

"UNRWA must fire its employee, Suhail al-Hindi, who was elected to Hamas' administration," said Mordechai.

The general also said demanded the UN agency investigate the matter. The agency temporarily suspended al-Hindi in 2011 for participating in events with Hamas officials.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.