UN to investigate allegation aid was diverted to Hamas

UN to investigate allegation aid was diverted to Hamas
3 min read
09 August, 2016
The United Nations said it was "greatly concerned" at Israeli allegations that a UNDP employee has diverted aid to Hamas fighters in Gaza, vowing and internal investigation into the matter.
Borsh was accused of using rubble from UNDP projects to build reconstruct 'Hamas areas' [AFP]

The United Nations said on Tuesday it was "greatly concerned" at Israeli claims one of its staff helped Hamas fighters in Gaza and vowed an internal investigation.

"The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is greatly concerned by the allegation from the Israeli authorities," it said, promising "a thorough internal review of the processes and circumstances surrounding the allegation."

Israel on Tuesday charged engineer Waheed Borsh with diverting aid to Hamas, particularly by using rubble from UNDP projects to build a jetty used by Hamas for its naval force.

The 38-year-old is also alleged to have last year persuaded UNDP managers to prioritse the reconstruction of houses damaged in conflicts with Israel in areas where Hamas members lived, after pressure from the group.

In Gaza, Hamas spokesperson Hazem Qasem denied the allegations.

"These Israeli claims are baseless and the purpose of these claims is to justify the continued siege on Gaza,” he said.

The UNDP said despite the allegations, it was confident it had "robust measures in place to ensure that the rubble, which is removed and crushed, goes to its intended purpose", the statement said.

"The allegations concerning Mr Borsh by the Israeli authorities refer to 300 tonnes of the more than one million tonnes removed, or seven truckloads out of a total of nearly 26,000," it added.

It was the third time an aid worker had been charged with working with Hamas in a week.

On Monday, Save the Children said it was looking into Israeli claims that a Palestinian staff member in Gaza had been recruited by Hamas, days after the Gaza head of the US-based charity World Vision Mohammed al-Halabi was accused of passing millions of dollars in international aid to the group.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is greatly concerned by the allegation from the Israeli authorities.

Israel says Halabi crafted an elaborate scheme to funnel funds, food, medical supplies and agricultural equipment to Hamas.

World Vision said it was "shocked" by the allegations.

"Based on the information available to us at this time, we have no reason to believe that the allegations are true," a World Vision statement said on Thursday.

"World Vision programmes in Gaza have been subject to regular internal and independent audits, independent evaluations, and a broad range of internal controls aimed at ensuring that assets reach their intended beneficiaries and are used in compliance with applicable laws and donor requirements."

Founded in 1950, World Vision has worked with Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip since 1975.

The charity has recently carried out extensive work in Gaza, including rehabilitating large tracts of agricultural land, building greenhouses, irrigation and water wells.

It has also provided equipment to Gazan fishermen whose livelihoods have been severely disrupted by Israeli measures.