Following last week’s allegations by the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) – that the manager of the NGO World Vision’s Gaza operations, Mohammed El-Halabi, funneled 60% of the organization’s Gaza budget to Hamas – another international aid employee has been arrested on similar charges. Waheed Borsh, a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) employee since 2003, has been indicted with providing material assistance to Hamas and using his position to aid the terrorist group.
In response, Prof. Gerald Steinberg, President of NGO Monitor noted, “Sadly, the arrest of a UNDP official on terror charges is not surprising considering the organization’s apparent willingness to work with Hamas. To avoid enabling murderous Hamas attacks, and compounding the suffering of people in Gaza, aid groups need to apply surveillance and intelligence technologies, particularly regarding employees and their activities.”
In 2015, NGO Monitor identified UNDP’s complicity in strengthening and enhancing the legitimacy of Hamas in its 2012-2014 “Consolidated Plan of Assistance,” and raised concerns over possible cooperation between UNDP and Hamas institutions. In 2010, the UNDP published a plan detailing its administration of Gaza aid projects, which clearly describes extensive cooperation with “Gaza local authorities.” Such cooperation would make Hamas an official partner in the aid implementation process, casting doubt on UNDP’s ability to ensure that no aid is diverted to enhance Hamas’ terror capabilities.
As NGO Monitor has warned repeatedly, humanitarian efforts in Gaza are inherently susceptible to extortion and theft by violent actors, including terrorist organizations. Any consideration of humanitarian projects in Gaza must, therefore, include vigorous, concrete, and effective policies that address the risk of aid diversion, both on the part of the implementing organization and on the part of the funder.