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the "neutral and engaged" Mr Gunness
His name is Muhammad Daoud Ismail al-Jamassi. He's in the news because he was elected to a leadership position in Hamas' elections last month. We initially wrote about him this morning ["06-Mar-17: Does UNRWA know yet that another of its key people is a Hamas insider?"]
Another long-term employee of UNRWA in Gaza, Dr. Suhail Ahmed Hassan al-Hindi, was suspended from his UNRWA position last week because he too was elected to the Hamas polit-bureau (both Hamas and al-Hindi have denied that he was elected). Al-Hindi had been suspended by UNRWA years earlier for his Hamas affiliation. We wrote about the al-Hindi affair here:
- 27-Feb-17: UNRWA is shocked, shocked, to discover...
- 26-Feb-17: Hamas' new Gaza leadership, and what it says about educating towards a desperately worse future"
- Hamas has long had wide support among UNRWA Gaza employees. It leverages this as part of its strategy to strengthen the grip it has on the Gazan Palestinian Arab population. UNRWA connections also provide Hamas with a way to advance the interests of its so-called military wing (we say all of Hamas is an armed terrorist entity).
- Muhammad Daoud Ismail al-Jamassi (also known by his kunya Abu Obeida) is an engineer currently in charge of UNRWA's engineering department for the refugee camps of the central Gaza Strip.
- His election last month - along with Al-Hindi's - to the new Hamas political bureau is a reflection of the importance Hamas attributes to Islamist activists who also hold senior UNRWA staff and management positions.
- Al-Jamassi has been called a senior Hamas figure for at least a decade (the Meir Amit report gives details).
- Unlike al-Hindi, al-Jamassi is not denying that he has been elected to the Hamas seat, and Hamas does not deny it either.
- The Meir Amit report suggests that Hamas wants to use al-Jamassi's access to UNRWA's donated funds and materials so as to (illicitly) benefit Hamas.
- Hamas makes use of al-Hindi and other Hamas-aligned teachers and school principals to indoctrinate school children with radical Islamist ideology and to maintain a paramilitary presence in the schools. (Readers of the Meir Amit report are left to assume that no one at UNRWA admits to knowing this.)
- Members of the Al-Jamassi clan are well-known in Gaza. Al-Jamassi himself has held a string of positions inside Hamas while at the same time holding down an important UNRWA position. His involvement with Hamas' Public Relations directorate goes back at least seven years.
- In UNRWA's engineering department, he's the responsible officer for infrastructure projects in the refugee camps of the central Gaza Strip. These include Bureij (35,000 residents), Nuseirat (65,000 residents) and Deir al-Balah (20,000 residents) camps. We can assume there's a substantial amount of money and materiel that passes through the hands of his engineers.
So what can we expect now from UNRWA? Here's what its spokesperson, Chris Gunness, said ten days ago when the al-Hindi scandal got into the headlines:
Gunness stressed that UNRWA is tackling neutrality head on in a deliberate and systematic way, noting that “all UNRWA staff are obligated to uphold the highest standards in terms of neutrality, independence and integrity in fulfilling the Agency's mandate to provide services to Palestine refugees.”
“These obligations and standards are established through the Area and International Staff Regulations and Rules,” he added. He also stressed that “staff members are prohibited from engaging in any political activity which is inconsistent or might adversely reflect upon the independence and impartiality required by their status.”
“All UNRWA staff are regularly advised that holding of political party offices, membership on any political committee, acceptance or solicitation of any financial contributions for political purposes, initiation or signature of petitions involving political candidates or political issues, are all examples of what is regarded as improper conduct for Agency staff,” the statement added. Gunness pledged that “if any new allegations come to light, we will look into them immediately and thoroughly.” ["UNRWA: No evidence UNRWA staff member elected to Hamas politburo in Gaza", WAFA (the official news agency of the Palestinian Authority), February 24, 2017]
He says nothing about "allegations" that have been around for a decade or more.