Israel

UN Refugee Agency Suspends Elementary School Principal Accused of Being Hamas Leader

UNRWA, the United Nations agency providing aid to Palestinian refugees, announced Sunday that it had suspended an employee who was accused of being named to a leadership post in the terrorist organization Hamas.

Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) charged that Suhail al-Hindi a principal at a UNRWA-run school, was appointed to a top post during the terror organization’s elections two weeks ago.

Al-Hindi was “appointed as a senior Hamas member from Jabalia in northern Gaza,” COGAT stated on its website. “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 charge led the Israeli government to demand al-Hindi’s suspension. UNRWA claimed that it had already begun that process.

“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,” UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness wrote.

Al-Hindi’s suspension represented a reversal for UNRWA, which originally had dismissed the charges. “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,” UNRWA claimed.

Earlier this month, the watchdog organization UN Watch uncovered at least 40 instances of UNRWA employees posting anti-Semitic content to their social media sites.

Accusations of ties to Hamas have long dogged UNRWA. Hamas weapons were found in UNRWA schools at least three times during the 2014 war between Hamas and Israel. In one case, the agency returned rockets found in one of its schools to Hamas. Gunness, the agency’s spokesman, spoke at an event in 2015 sponsored by Interpal, a British charity organization that the U.S. Treasury Department designated a terrorist entity in 2008 due to its financial support for Hamas.

UNRWA is not the only UN agency with demonstrated ties to Hamas. Last August, Waheed Borsh, an engineer with the United Nations Development Program, was arrested by Israel’s domestic security service and charged with using his position to help Hamas build and maintain its terrorist infrastructure, like tunnels and jetties.

[Photo: COGAT ]