Middle East

Israel demands UN fire Gaza staffer with alleged Hamas ties

An Israeli military general is calling on a United Nations agency to fire a Palestinian staff member he claims has been elected to a leadership position with the Islamist group Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai of the Israeli defense body COGAT said Sunday he demanded the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, investigate the matter. Israel considers Hamas a terrorist organization.

Suhail al-Hindi is the chairman of the UNRWA Palestinian workers' union in Gaza. The Israeli defense body says he was elected to Hamas' politburo in a secret vote this month.

UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness said al-Hindi has denied the accusation. The U.N. agency forbids staff from holding political office.

The agency temporarily suspended al-Hindi in 2011 for participating in events with Hamas officials.