An Israeli court postponed a hearing on Sunday for a UN worker accused of aiding Hamas after a dispute arose over whether he should be immune from prosecution, AFP has reported. The hearing was rescheduled for 29 September.
Waheed Al-Borsh wore a brown prisoner’s uniform when he appeared briefly in court in the southern city of Beersheba. His lawyer, Lea Tsemel, said that the 38-year-old is innocent and that the defence team has requested more time to be able to prove it.
Al-Borsh declined to comment when approached by AFP. The engineer from Jabaliya in northern Gaza was working for the UN Development Programme (UNDP) when he was arrested on 16 July. He is accused by Israel of being recruited by a Hamas member to “redirect his work for UNDP to serve Hamas’s military interests.”
The specific charge is that he diverted 300 tons of rubble from a UNDP project in the Gaza Strip to build a jetty which would be used by the naval assault forces of the military wing of Hamas. After reviewing the charge sheet, the UNDP challenged Israel’s allegations and said that Al-Borsh diverted the rubble under instructions from the Palestinian Authority.
UN officials have argued that their employee may qualify for immunity from prosecution and have requested that they be allowed to visit him in jail. They have also called for his release into UN custody until they can determine whether they should press for his immunity. Israel has rejected the UN immunity argument.