Israel to UNRWA: Fire top official over ‘senior Hamas role’
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Israel to UNRWA: Fire top official over ‘senior Hamas role’

Suhail al-Hindi denies any connection to Palestinian terror group, but IDF says he was elected to its politburo two weeks ago

Palestinian police stand guard, during the opening ceremony of Rafah health center, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, on March 11, 2015. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)
Palestinian police stand guard, during the opening ceremony of Rafah health center, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, on March 11, 2015. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

An Israeli military agency on Sunday demanded that the UN Relief and Works Agency fire the teacher heading its employee union in Gaza, charging that the educator was elected to a senior political position in Hamas two weeks ago.

Suhail al-Hindi, an elementary school principal in Jabaliya who heads the UN refugee agency’s teachers’ union, was accused by the coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories of “lying to the UN about his position” within the Hamas terror group. It said al-Hindi was appointed to a senior role in the terror organization in the February 12 elections in the coastal enclave.

“Despite the fact that UNRWA belongs to and is financed by the UN, it surprisingly allows employment of a senior member of a terrorist organization,” COGAT said in a statement issued Sunday. “Due to the severity of the situation, the head of COGAT, Major General Yoav (Poly) Mordechai called on UNRWA to terminate al-Hindi immediately.”

The statement also said Mordechai directly approached the UN on the matter.

UNRWA, for its part, said in a statement on Friday that it had investigated the allegations against al-Hindi, and that it “has neither uncovered nor received evidence to contradict the staff member’s denial that he was elected to political office.”

The agency said that al-Hindi told UNRWA that “I have no relation whatsoever with the issue.”

“All UNRWA staff are obligated to uphold the highest standards in terms of neutrality, independence and integrity in fulfilling the Agency’s mandate to provide services to Palestine refugees. These obligations and standards are established through the Area and International Staff Regulations and Rules,” the UN agency said.

In 2011, al-Hindi was suspended by UNRWA for three months after appearing at an event next to Ismail Haniyeh, then the leader of Hamas in Gaza. The Gaza teachers union called a strike at the time to protest the move.

Al-Hindi has repeatedly denied links to the group, which is the de facto ruler of Gaza.

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