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Middle East | AP | February 27, 2017
UN suspends Gaza staffer amid allegations of Hamas ties
JERUSALEM (AP) — The U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees suspended a Palestinian staffer Sunday, a spokesman for the U.N. agency said as Israel alleged the employee was elected to a leadership position with the Islamist group Hamas in the Gaza Strip.We know only what open sources can know, though our experience with Hamas (as the parents of one of the children its agent's murdered) predisposes us to be sensitive to and suspicious of claims by third-parties about what they do and don't and did and didn't know about their own involvement with Hamas. On that basis, we say:
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 defense body COGAT said al-Hindi was elected to Hamas' politburo in a secret vote this month, though al-Hindi denied that. The U.N. agency forbids its staff from holding political office.
Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai of COGAT said in a statement Sunday that he demanded the U.N. agency investigate the matter. Israel considers Hamas a terrorist organization.
"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.
Israel and UNRWA have long had a rocky relationship. Israel has accused the U.N. body of cooperating with militants, while UNRWA has accused Israel of hindering its operations in the Gaza Strip.
- When Chris Gunness says the temporary suspension of Al-Hindi arose from information presumably just received a few minutes or a few days or a few weeks before the executive decision was taken, this is nonsense. The UNRWA people in Gaza have for years been swimming in a cess-pool of Islamist, Hamas and radical/extremist Arab ideology and activity. Members of UNRWA management see and know exactly what they want to. Not more and surely not less.
- At every level of its operations in Gaza and Jerusalem and in Judea and Samaria, UNRWA plays a knowing, indispensable role in enabling some of the most hideous hate-based education to be found anywhere in the Middle East. The phenomenon of Palestinian Arab children with knives in their hands and a passion for Jewish blood in their hearts is the return on decades of UNRWA investment.
- The sudden discovery of a Hamas figure in its ranks is not some sort of rare exception to be dealt with by a summary suspension. That suspension is driven not by a desire to purify UNRWA's good name but a tactical response to the events of the current news cycle. There will be no purge of Islamist terrorists from the ranks of UNRWA. UNRWA has for decades been infected systemically by the kind of people and actions that this morning they say they want to remove.