Israel accuses Palestinian Authority in rubble diversion scheme

Israel accuses Palestinian Authority in rubble diversion scheme
A Gazan man has been accused of diverting rubble to the Hamas movement on instruction of the Palestinian Authority, claims which have been strongly denied.
2 min read
14 August, 2016
Israel alleges that the rubble was moved on instruction of the Palestinian Authority [AFP]
A Gazan has been accused of relocating tonnes of rubble on instruction of the Palestinian Authority, days after Israel charged him with aiding the Hamas movement.

Engineer Waheed Borsh, 38, who worked for the UN Development Programme (UNDP), was arrested on July 16 and accused of being recruited by the movement to "redirect his work for UNDP to serve Hamas's military interests".

Israeli courts allege he diverted 300 tonnes of rubble from a UNDP project in Gaza to a Hamas military site.

Hamas, which was elected in 2006 and has unilaterally ruled the Gaza Strip since a bloody power struggle with Fatah in 2007, has categorically denied any involvement.

"These Israeli claims are baseless and the purpose of these claims is to justify the continued siege on Gaza,” Hamas spokesperson Hazem Qasem said.

UNDP confirmed it had "established that the rubble in question was transported to its destination according to written instructions from the Ministry of Public Works and Housing of the Palestinian Authority as to where it should be placed."

It added that it had full documentation on the process flow, the instructions and transportation of the rubble.

"UNDP is working in partnership and coordination with the Palestinian Authority to implement projects in Gaza, including rubble removal," a UNDP spokesperson told The New Arab.

"There was no diversion of rubble from its designated location. Rubble was delivered in coordination with the Palestinian Authority to a civilian area and not Hamas."

The UN programme said it was "greatly concerned by the allegation" and promised "a thorough internal review of the processes and circumstances surrounding the allegation".

The charge sheet in question was published on Tuesday, just days after the Gaza head of US-based NGO World Vision was charged with passing millions of dollars of international aid money to Hamas.

Israel has fought three wars against Hamas in Gaza since 2008 and has long alleged that aid has been diverted to the movement, a claim rejected by NGOs and the United Nations.

Editor's note: A previously published version of this article suggested the UN had, through its UNDP agency, accused the Palestinian Authority of redirecting the rubble to Hamas. This was incorrect, and we apologise for the error.