The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) announced on Sunday that it was suspending Dr. Suhail Ahmed Hassan al-Hindi from his position as Chairman of the Association of Palestinian Workers of UNRWA in Gaza, after it was revealed that he is politically active in the Hamas terror organisation.
Dr al-Hindi, who is also the principal of the Palestine Boys’ Elementary School, an UNRWA school for refugee children, was elected on February 12th to Hamas political bureau.
Following an Israeli call for UNRWA to take action, the UN agency said the decision had already been taken to fire Dr al-Hindi. UNRWA spokeswoman Chris Gunness wrote: “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”.
COGAT, the Israeli Defense Ministry agency responsible for civilian affairs in the West Bank and Gaza, says that al-Hindi was chosen “as a senior Hamas member from Jabalia in northern Gaza”.
It added: “He also holds positions as both the Chairman of the Association of Palestinian Workers of UNRWA since 2012 and as an elementary school principal in the Gaza Strip”.
The statement continued: “Due to the severity of the situation, the head of COGAT, Major General Yoav Mordechai called on UNRWA to terminate al-Hindi immediately”.
UNRWA issued an initial denial the next day:“Based on the due diligence carried out by the agency to date, UNRWA has neither uncovered nor received evidence to contradict the staff member’s denial that he was elected to political office”. Its Friday statement quoted Hindi as saying that he has “no relation whatsoever with the issue”.
This is not the only occasion where employees in Gaza have been accused of being linked to Hamas or violence against Israelis.
In August 2016, Israel charged an engineer in the UN’s Development Programme of funnelling UN resources to the internationally proscribed terrorist group Hamas, and in the same month a director of the World Vision NGO in Gaza was arrested for allegedly diverting millions of dollars of aid to Hamas.
In October 2015 a number of employees from 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”.