Israel frees Palestinian UN worker accused of aiding Hamas
GAZA CITY - A Palestinian UN worker sentenced by Israel to seven months for aiding Hamas was released Thursday and returned to Gaza, calling his prosecution "unjust" and hoping to resume his job.
Waheed Borsh, 39, arrived at his home in the southern Gaza Strip and was greeted by dozens of well-wishers handing out sweets and singing songs.
Israeli forces detained Borsh, an engineer, on July 16, causing a major stir in the aid community.
He was sentenced last week to seven months in prison in a plea deal, but released on the basis of time served and for good behaviour.
Israel initially claimed Borsh had been recruited by Hamas, the Islamist movement that runs the Gaza Strip, but it later dropped the allegation.
He was convicted for "rendering services to an illegal organisation without intention", his lawyer said.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), where Borsh worked, said the deal showed there had been no wrongdoing by the organisation.
Borsh said he was hopeful of returning to his job.
"I don't think what happened will affect my work," he said, insisting that his trial had been "unjust" and that he was never allied to any political party.
"The aim of the organisation (UNDP) is to help people," he said.
Israel has fought three wars with Palestinian militants in Gaza since 2008.
Israel has long alleged that Hamas has sought to infiltrate humanitarian organisations and divert aid, accusations the Islamist movement denies.
Aid workers privately admit to pressure from Hamas.
But they also say materials taken into Gaza are subject to some of the strictest monitoring in the world and that the blockade is preventing essential goods from entering the impoverished enclave.