Israel has charged a United Nation worker of funnelling UN resources to the internationally proscribed terrorist group Hamas in the Gaza strip, a week after a director of the World Vision NGO in Gaza was arrested for allegedly diverting millions of dollars of aid to Hamas.
The employee in question, Wahid Abd Allah Borsh, is an engineer in the UN’s Development Program which carries out humanitarian work with the aim of eradicating poverty and developing countries.
The Israeli security agency Shin Bet arrested Mr Borsh as he was on his way to the territory in July 2016. During the ensuing interrogation, Borsh allegedly told Shin Bet officers that in 2014, he was directed by Hamas to “focus on his work in the UNDP in a way that would allow Hamas to extract the greatest possible benefit from him”. Borsh also allegedly admitted that he had used his contact with UN forces to leak information to Hamas which involved informing Hamas when there concealed tunnel entrances or weapon caches were discovered. This in turn allowed Hamas to move in and secure the sight, reclaiming the weapons in the process.
In a statement the Shin Bet said: “This investigation also demonstrates how Hamas exploits the resources of international aid organizations at the expense of the civilian population of the Gaza Strip”. Hamas has denied any connection to Mr Borsh claiming that these accusations are designed to help strengthen Israel’s blockade of Gaza.
This is not the only occasion where employees in Gaza have been accused of being linked to violence against Israelis. In October 2015 a number of employees from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) were either fired or faced disciplinary action for praising Palestinian stabbing attacks and inciting violence against Jews on social media.
During the 2014 Gaza conflict stockpiles of rockets were found in multiple school buildings that were controlled by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). In official statements they condemned the groups for endangering the lives of civilians and asked “the warring parties to respect the inviolability of UN property.”
Last week, Israel indicted the head of the Gaza branch of World Vision, a charity that works in close to 100 countries, accused hime of allegedly diverting millions in aid to Hamas. Shin Bet said Mr Halabi was arrested at the Erez border crossing in June and has now been charged with funding terrorism. It is believed that he has provided £5.4m a year in aid money to both Hamas.
The Shin Bet security service said about 60% of all funds sent to Gaza by the World Vision charity was being diverted to the Islamist movement. Additionally, it is believed these funds were used, amongst other things, for the digging of tunnels intended to be used for attacks on Israeli civilian communities, the building of military bases and for the purchase of weapons. This has led to Australia suspending all funding for the World Vision charity until the investigation reaches its conclusion.
The UN has long been accused of being institutionally biased against Israel. Out of the 233 country specific UN Human Rights Council (UNHCR) resolutions passed in the last decade, more than a quarter of them (65) have been focused on Israel, around half of which have been condemnatory. By comparison, Syria, which has been in turmoil since the civil war began in 2011, has only been the subject of 19 resolutions. This made even more alarming considering that the UNHRC was only formed in 2006. Former Prime Minister David Cameron had in 2014 called for “an end to the ridiculous situation where last year the United Nations General Assembly passed 3 times as many resolutions on Israel as Syria, Iran and North Korea put together; no more excuses for the 32 countries in the United Nations who refuse to recognise Israel”.