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Israel rejects UN appeal to release Gaza employee accused of aiding Hamas

A Palestinian man (in photo) in front of his damaged home after Israeli tanks fired on homes in in the northern Gaza strip. Photograph: (Getty)

AFP United States Aug 26, 2016, 03.06 AM (IST)

Israel on Thursday rejected the United Nations' request to release its staffer charged with aiding Palestinian militant outfit Hamas on the grounds that he enjoyed diplomatic immunity.

In early August, an Israeli court had charged the 38-year-old Palestinian engineer with diverting 300 tons of rubble from a UNDP project in Gaza to build a jetty for Hamas.

Israeli ambassador Danny Danon said the UN office of legal affairs had issued a formal letter requesting the release of Waheed Borsh, who worked for the UN Development Program (UNDP). He also asked the UN to carry out a comprehensive review of its aid programs in Gaza, to ensure that funding and employees "fulfill the purpose of aiding the residents of Gaza and not fund terror activities."

"We do not grant immunity to terrorists trying to harm our citizens," Danon said in response to the letter.

 

The United Nations had argued that Borsh, as a UN employee, enjoyed immunity from arrest and from legal process, and requested that its officials be allowed to visit him in jail.


"Israel operates according to the law, and we continue to do so in this case as well," he said in a statement from the Israeli mission to the United Nations.

The United Nations had argued that Borsh, as a UN employee, enjoyed immunity from arrest and from legal process, and requested that its officials be allowed to visit him in jail.

After reviewing the charge sheet, the UNDP had challenged Israel's allegations and had said on Saturday that Borsh diverted the rubble under instructions from the Palestinian Authority.

Israel has long alleged that aid has been diverted to Hamas which has controlled Gaza since 2007, claims rejected by non-governmental organisations and the UN.

However, the UN says that more than two-thirds of the population of the Gaza Strip, which Israel has blockaded for a decade, are reliant on some form of aid, according to the United Nations.

(WION with inputs from AFP)





 

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