Israel Rebuffs Immunity Claim for U.N. Worker Who Aided Hamas

Danny Danon, Israel's ambassador to the United Nations (Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images)
Danny Danon, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations (Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images)

Israel has rebuffed a United Nations demand for the immediate release of a U.N. employee that Israel arrested on allegations of using his position to divert large quantities of construction materials to Hamas terror activities, The Jerusalem Post reported on Thursday night.

The U.N. legal office sent a letter to Israeli ambassador Danny Danon claiming diplomatic immunity for Wahid Abdullah al-Bursh, who worked for the U.N. Development Agency (UNDP), according to the office of the Israeli Mission.

Danon replied stiffly that “Israel functions in accordance with the law, and thus we are acting according to the law in this case as well…”immunity is not given to terrorists working to harm Israeli citizens.”

The U.N. insists that anyone employed in its organization should enjoy diplomatic immunity, as well as access to the Secretary-General’s representative in a visit to Israeli prisons.

In April and May 2015, Bursh allegedly used his authority to transfer to a Hamas naval commando port some 300 tons of construction materials. He also convinced his manager at UNDP to give preference to rehabilitation projects in areas where Hamas agents were operating.

Bursh’s interrogation led to information concerning other aid workers abetting Hamas, according to the Shin Bet. He also provided information on Hamas tunnels and weapons warehouses.

In recent weeks, Danon has been meeting with international aid organizations operating in Gaza to establish monitoring mechanisms to prevent any further Hamas infiltration of their programs.

“We demand the U.N. and other organizations carry out a comprehensive reform of the mechanisms of humanitarian aid to Gaza,” said Ambassador Danon. “Every dollar and every local employee of an international organization that enters the Gaza Strip must be supervised by independent bodies.”