Dr. Sahil Ahmed Hassan El-Handi is one of the new members recently elected to Political Bureau of the Hamas terrorist organization. He has served as Chairman of the the Association of UNRWA workers since 2012.
According to the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, Dr. El-Handi led protests against the management of UNRWA in 2015 and 2016 because of the organization's decision to reduce it operations in Gaza due to budget cuts. The protests included strikes in UNRWA institutions in the Gaza Strip, which received extensive media coverage. UNRWA reached a deal with the protesters to end the strikes in December, 2016.
Dr. El-Handi is also the director of an UNRWA elementary school for the descendants of Arab refugees,
The Meir Amit Center noted that following the reports of his election to the Hamas political bureau in Gaza, he came out with a series of declarations in which he vehemently denied that he was elected a member of the Hamas politburo. He also said that he plans to file a lawsuit against the organizations which reported on the election. Hamas has yet to issue an official statement on the matter.
However, the Meir Amit Center is suspicious of Dr. El-Handi's denials. "We believe that vigorous denials are a policy resulting from his election...because it may cause difficulties for Hamas in their relationship with UNRWA."
According to the Meir Amit Center, UNRWA has expressed opposition to its employees being members of Hamas and other organizations, even if it fails to enforce that opposition.