Palestinian policemen loyal to Hamas guard outside the UNRWA headquarters in Gaza City.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
UNRWA has suspended Suhail al-Hindi, an employee of the UN agency, pending the investigation into allegations that he was elected into the Hamas political leadership, Chris Gunness, a UNRWA spokesman wrote in an email.
“We have seen the latest communication from the Israeli authorities,” he 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.”
Hindi was elected to the Hamas political leadership in the Gaza Strip, the Defense Ministry’s Coordinator for Government Activities in the Territories unit alleged on Sunday.
“The name Suheil Ahmad Hassan al-Hindi has emerged as one of those selected for membership in the Hamas politburo,” a report published on COGAT’s website stated, two days after a senior Hamas official denied the claim.
Reached by telephone Sunday evening, COGAT, which coordinates civil, economic and security affairs in the territories, said it concluded, after an investigation, that Hindi was elected to Hamas’s leadership in the Gaza Strip.
On Friday, a senior Hamas official denied that Hindi, who is a part of UNRWA’s education staff and chairman of the union for UNRWA employees in Gaza, was elected to a leadership position in Hamas.
“Suheil was not elected to any position nor did he participate in elections for any political party,” a senior Hamas official told The Jerusalem Post
. “He has no position in Hamas.”
Hamas’s denial came a day after Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon tweeted that Hindi was elected to the Hamas leadership.
“INCREDIBLE BUT TRUE!! Dr. Suheil al-Hindi, senior at #UNWRA Gaza, [was] appointed to #Hamas leadership. Maybe that’s how #Hamas looks for funding?!?” Nahshon wrote on Twitter.
On February 13, the same day that Hamas announced the completion of its internal political leadership elections in the Strip, some Palestinian media outlets reported that Hindi was elected.
Hindi quickly responded, denying the reports and calling them inaccurate.
“I have no relation to that issue in any way and I will sue the parties that are throwing around my name on social media and new sites,” Hindi said in a statement.
UNRWA said on Thursday that the results of an ongoing internal investigation gave it no reason to believe the allegations against Hindi are true.
“As soon as the allegations came to UNRWA’s attention, the agency undertook a preliminary investigation, including discussing the allegations with the staff member. 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,” Gunness said in an email late Thursday evening.