Head of COGAT Calls on UNRWA to Terminate Employee Who Has Been Elected to Hamas Leadership

Senior member of Hamas, Suhail al-Hindi, remains active as Chairman of the Association of Palestinian Workers of UNRWA in Gaza. After his appointment to Hamas leadership in the last election, al-Hindi was questioned by the UN agency about his affiliation with the terror organization, but he falsely claimed that he does not have any involvement with Hamas.

The election for Hamas’ leadership (i.e. the political bureau) was held on February 12th. At the end of the election, the new head of the political bureau was chosen, in addition to 14 senior members from the organization, some of which belong to Hamas’ military wing. Amongst other members elected to the political bureau, Suhail Ahmed Hassan al-Hindi was also appointed as a senior Hamas member from Jabalia in northern Gaza. With much controversy, 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.

 

Hamas on the Defense

Publishing the names of those elected for the political bureau has caused deep resentment within Hamas, in fear that these members will not be able to continue with their civil activities while simultaneously serving as members in the terror organization. The embarrassment of linking UNRWA, the employer of al-Hindi, to Hamas leadership might cause trouble for the agency and lead to termination of al-Hindi from his position. The media published a list of elected members for the political bureau of Hamas, in which Hamas fully denied. Furthermore, Hamas attempted to discredit media sources that published this information. Al-Hindi directly informed the Palestinian media that he denied the allegations suggesting that he is connected to the political bureau of Hamas. This denial is a complete falsehood.

Why is the UN employing senior members of Hamas terror organization?

After learning about the appointment of al-Hindi to the political bureau of Hamas, UNRWA stated on its website that it is conducting an investigation on the matter. During the preliminary inquiry, which addressed al-Hindi himself, he denied reports and stated, “I don’t have any connection to the matter.” The spokesperson of the agency emphasized that all UNRWA members are prohibited from taking part in any political activity that could affect the independence of their activities within the framework of the agency.

 

It is worth mentioning that this is not the first time that al-Hindi has been suspected of being involved in terrorism. In 2011, he was almost terminated for a similar incident. Al-Hindi was suspended for 3 months after he was accused of participating in public events with other senior members of Hamas like Ismail Haniyeh. However, al-Hindi’s termination was eventually foiled following interventions by senior UN officials.

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. The application form and the employment for agency workers generally does not include a background check for staff members who belong to a terrorist organization. According to the agency’s regulations, UNRWA’s employees are prohibited from participating in political activities which might put the workers in a conflict of interest. However, there are no specific regulations in place that prevent participation in terrorist activities.

Due to the severity of the situation, the head of COGAT, Major General Yoav (Poly) Mordechai called on UNRWA to terminate al-Hindi immediately. Major General Mordechai also stated that COGAT directly approached UNRWA and demanded the agency to conduct a thorough investigation and take care of the matter immediately.