Israel accuses second charity group worker of using funds for Hamas

A Palestinian humanitarian aid worker has been accused of using his role with the UN Development Programme to help Hamas, the Israel Security Agency said in a press release Tuesday, the second such case in less than a week.

Waheed Borsh, who had worked as an engineer in Gaza for the UN programme since 2003, was indicted in court on Tuesday and has been charged with assisting the Palestinian extremist organization.

According to the release, Borsh had diverted funds to construct a military facility and push housing projects influenced by Hamas. The agency did not say how much money Borsh had used to aid the group.

The UN programme released a statement Tuesday reasserting its commitment to transparency and measures against diversion of funds, adding that it is "conducting a thorough internal review of the processes and circumstances surrounding the allegation."

Borsh, the release said, had been working under contract on a rubble removal project and was alleged by Israeli authorities to have been diverting some of it to a port in northern Gaza being run by Hamas.

Besides World Vision and the UN programme, Save the Children has also come under scrutiny from Israeli authorities over similar claims.

A Save the Children Germany spokesman said that Israeli authorities had inquired about one of the organization's employees in Gaza but that he did not know the nature of the allegations.

Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman, called the accusations false, adding that they were made "as part of an Israel plan to tighten the siege and suffocate the Gaza Strip by chasing the international aid organizations that are serving in the Gaza Strip."

Israel's Foreign Ministry on Tuesday called for the United Nations to condemn the alleged actions by Hamas.

The announcement comes less than a week after Israel's security agency Shin Bet accused the director of the Gaza branch of charity group World Vision of funnelling millions of aid dollars to Hamas.

More than 7 million dollars a year, or 60 per cent of the annual budget for World Vision's Gaza branch, was diverted to Hamas by Mohammed el-Halabi, according to the Shin Bet press release.

"The facts uncovered during this important investigation illustrate, above all else, Hamas' cynical exploitation of international humanitarian aid and resources donated by Western nations," it said.

Last update: Tue, 09/08/2016 - 18:24
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