Israel has informed senior officials at the UN Secretary General’s bureau and heads of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in New York and Israel about the arrest of a Palestinian engineer who worked for the UNDP in Gaza, as well as details of his indictment on charges of using his position to assist the Hamas terrorist organization.
Israel has informed these officials of its expectation that the UN, and especially its aid agencies, will unequivocally condemn Hamas for exploiting the humanitarian aid system for its own aims and will take concrete measures to ensure that humanitarian activities actually assist those in need in Gaza instead of assisting the terrorist leaders of Hamas.
Waheed Borsh, a humanitarian aid worker in the Gaza Strip has been arrested and charged with using his position to provide material assistance to Hamas’s terrorist efforts. This is the second such indictment of a Palestinian aid worker in Gaza in less than a week.
Borsh was arrested on July 16, 2016 by Israel Police and Israel Security Agency (Shabak) and indicted in a civilian court in southern Israel on Tuesday, August 9. He was charged with assisting Hamas, an internationally recognized Islamist terrorist organization.
Borsh, from Jabaliya in the Gaza Strip, has worked for the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Gaza as engineer since 2003. His areas of responsibility included demolishing houses damaged during the conflicts with Israel and clearing the rubbish from sites after demolition.
The UNDP is one of the largest multilateral development agencies. It conducts development and rehabilitation projects for the Arab population of the Gaza Strip, which include assisting in the rehabilitation of damaged homes.
The Borsh interrogation revealed that he had been instructed by a senior member of Hamas to redirect his work for UNDP to serve Hamas’s military aims. Borsh confessed that he carried out activities that aided Hamas. For example, last year he helped build a military jetty in the northern Gaza Strip – utilizing UNDP resources – to be used by Hamas’s marine commando. Also in 2015, he persuaded UNDP managers to prioritize the rehabilitation of housing in areas populated by Hamas members. Borsh was acting in response to a request by Hamas.
Additionally, Borsh disclosed information regarding cases in which Hamas would blatantly and aggressively exploit UNDP humanitarian activities for its own purposes. For example, when weapons or terrorist tunnel openings were discovered in houses being handled by the UNDP, Hamas would take control of the site and confiscate the arms and other materials. This violates clear UN procedures according to which UNMAS is supposed to be immediately notified as the United Nations Mine Action Service is the UN body in charge of dealing, inter alia, with explosive remnants of war. Borsh also disclosed information on Hamas tunnels and military bases which he had been exposed to during his work in Gaza.
Notably, according to Borsh, other Palestinians who work for aid organizations are also working for Hamas.
This case – along with last week’s case in which Hamas operative Mohammed El-Halabi infiltrated the World Vision humanitarian aid NGO and diverted funds and other resources for Hamas’s terrorist efforts – demonstrates how Hamas exploits the resources of international aid organizations at the expense of the civilian population of the Gaza Strip.