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Israel Arrests Turkish Aid Agency Official For 'Aiding Hamas'

"The investigation showed that Murtaja deceived TIKA by misusing the organisation's resources and funds, which were intended for substantial humanitarian projects in the Gaza Strip, by diverting them to Hamas's military wing," Shin Bat said in a statement.

AFP

Updated:March 21, 2017, 10:08 PM IST
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Israel Arrests Turkish Aid Agency Official For 'Aiding Hamas'
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Jerusalam: Israeli authorities said on Tuesday they have arrested a Palestinian employee in Gaza of Turkey's international aid agency TIKA on accusations of diverting its project funds to Hamas.

It was the third such arrest in recent months by Israel, with a UN worker and the Gaza head of Christian charity World Vision having previously been accused of aiding Hamas, the Islamist movement that runs the Gaza Strip.

Israel's domestic security agency Shin Bet said Muhammad Murtaja, coordinator of the Gaza branch of the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA), was arrested last month.

It said he had duped TIKA, with the agency run by the office of Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim unaware of his activities.

"The investigation showed that Murtaja deceived TIKA by misusing the organisation's resources and funds, which were intended for substantial humanitarian projects in the Gaza Strip, by diverting them to Hamas's military wing," Shin Bat said in a statement.

"This fraud was carried out in collusion with the senior ranks of Hamas in Gaza, headed by Ismail Haniya," it added, referring to Hamas's former top leader in Gaza.

A Hamas spokesman said the accusations were false and part of an effort by Israel to "strengthen the blockade on the Gaza Strip" by "terrorising international organisations so that they stop helping Gazans".

More than two-thirds of Gaza's two million people depend on some form of foreign aid, with the Palestinian enclave hit by three wars against Israel since 2008 and under an Israeli blockade for a decade.

UN officials have called for the blockade to be lifted, citing deteriorating humanitarian conditions.

Israel says it is needed to stop Hamas from importing weapons or materials that could be used to make them.

Shin Bet alleged Murtaja, around 40, was active in Hamas's military wing, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, beginning in 2009.

"His activity included... Military training and exercises, manufacturing weapons and explosive devices and digging terror tunnels," it said.

"Murtaja even stored weapons, such as hand grenades and guns, in his home."

It also alleged that "Murtaja's trip via Israel to receive training from TIKA, which led to his arrest for interrogation, was also intended to allow him to acquire information that would improve the accuracy of Hamas rockets being launched at Israel.
(Get detailed and live results of each and every seat in the Lok Sabha elections and state Assembly elections in Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim to know which candidate/party is leading or trailing and to know who has won and who has lost and by what margin. Our one-of-its-kind Election Analytics Centre lets you don a psephologist’s hat and turn into an election expert. Know interesting facts and trivia about the elections and see our informative graphics. Elections = News18)
| Edited by: Nakshab Khan
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