UNRWA staffer out after alleged Hamas ties

UNRWA says Gaza staffer suspected of being elected to Hamas no longer works for the agency.

Elad Benari ,

UNRWA HQ in Gaza
UNRWA HQ in Gaza
Flash 90

UNRWA, the United Nations agency for “Palestinian refugees”, on Saturday said a Gaza staffer suspected of being elected to the leadership of Hamas no longer works for the agency, The Associated Press reported.

UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness said the man, Suhail al-Hindi, is no longer employed by the agency, but declined to say whether al-Hindi had quit or was fired, saying the agency doesn't "discuss the terms of departure of individual staff members."

In February, the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center revealed that al-Hindi is one of the new members recently elected to Hamas’s political bureau.

The center said al-Hindi 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.

Following that revelation, UNRWA suspended al-Hindi pending the results of an internal investigation into the matter.

Al-Hindi denied having ant links to Hamas, which is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States and most of Europe.

Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon responded on Saturday night to the news that al-Hindi no longer works for UNRWA.

“Terrorists do not belong in the UN. It is time to finally put an end to the absurd situation in which UN employees, who are supposed to focus on humanitarian aid, abuse their positions and work simultaneously with terrorist organizations who call for the destruction of Israel. The UN must immediately implement strict oversight mechanisms to ensure that such grave occurrences do not occur again in the future,” said Danon.