Thursday, January 15, 2009

UN admits hiring Hamas militants

A UNITED Nations envoy admitted yesterday that he believed that members of Hamas were on the UN payroll in the Palestinian territories, but he rejected Israeli assertions that fighters in Gaza had been videotaped loading a rocket into a UN vehicle.

Israel has called on the UN to investigate after releasing footage taken by a drone flying over the Jabaliya refugee camp during the current operation to establish a buffer zone against missiles fired from the northern Gaza Strip.

The UN said in a statement that the “object visible on the tape is a folded stretcher. It appears to be the wrong length and much too light” to be a missile.

However, Peter Hansen, the head of the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which provides aid to Palestinian refugees, told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation he had little doubt that the UN employed members of the Palestinian militant group Hamas.

“Oh, I am sure that there are Hamas members on the UNRWA payroll and I don’t see that as a crime,” he said. “Hamas as a political organisation does not mean that every member is a militant and we do not do political vetting and exclude people from one persuasion as against another.

“We demand of our staff, whatever their political persuasion is, that they behave in accordance with UN standards and norms for neutrality.”

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