Israel frees UN employee who helped Hamas in Gaza


(JTA) — A United Nations employee who assisted Hamas was released after six months in an Israeli prison.

Waheed al-Bursh, a Palestinian engineer working for the United Nations Development Programme in Gaza, was sentenced last week to time served for assisting the terrorist group in transporting 300 tons of rubble to a Hamas-run facility, the Palestinian Ma’an news agency reported Thursday.

Al-Bursh, who was detained by Israeli police in August, had been initially suspected of conspiring with Hamas, but was eventually convicted of unintentionally assisting the group. He was released on Thursday, according to Ma’an.

In its latest monthly report published earlier this week, the Shin Bet security service reported just one attack from the Gaza Strip: the firing of an assault rifle on an Israeli army patrol guarding the border between the Hamas-run enclave and Israel. The overall number of terrorist attacks recorded in Israel last month was 98, compared to 95 the previous month.

Of the 98 attacks recorded in December, only 10 occurred in Jerusalem – a small increase from the nine attacks recorded in November. But in October, when 153 attacks were recorded nationally, approximately a third of them – or 48 incidents – were in Jerusalem.

The December tally was the third lowest figure on record since October 2015, when 620 attacks were recorded following a near tripling over the previous month. The lowest figure recorded in any month since then was in August of this year, when 93 incidents were reported.

But for Jerusalem, November and December have been among the calmest months since the flare-up last year, which Palestinians said was in response to Israeli actions endangering the Al-Aksa Mosque, located on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Israel’s government denied claims it was seeking to alter the status quo at the site.

The Shin Bet reports do not include dozens of incidents of rock throwing that occur every month, mainly in the West Bank.

According to Ma’an, more than 275 individuals have died during the wave of unrest that began in October, 2015, including over 235 Palestinians, many of whom were killed while perpetrating attacks. During that period, attacks also caused the deaths of five foreign nationals — two Americans, one Eritrean, one Sudanese and one Jordanian.

In September, October and November of 2015, the Shin Bet recorded 223, 620 and 326 attacks, respectively, in what Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called a “wave of terror.”

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