UN suspends Gaza staffer amid allegations of Hamas ties

2017-02-27 16:21
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Jerusalem – The UN agency for Palestinian refugees suspended a Palestinian staffer in Gaza on Sunday, a spokesperson for the UN agency said as Israel alleged the employee was elected to a leadership position with the Islamist group Hamas.

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 defence 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.

Major General Yoav Mordechai of COGAT said in a statement on Sunday that he demanded the UN agency investigate the matter. Israel considers Hamas a terrorist organisation.

"We have seen the latest communication from the Israeli authorities," Gunness said. "Before that communication, and in light of our ongoing independent internal investigation, we had been presented with substantial information from a number of sources which led us to take the decision this afternoon to suspend Suhail al-Hindi, pending the outcome of our investigation.

"As with all UN Agencies, we will ensure that a staff member's due process rights are followed."

The agency temporarily suspended al-Hindi in 2011 for participating in events with Hamas officials.

Read more on:    un  |  hamas  |  jerusalem  |  politics

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