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World Vision ‘shocked’ by allegations its Gaza operative funneled money to …

Palestinian Mohammad El Halabi, front, a manager of operations in the Gaza Strip for U.S.-based Christian charity World Vision, is seen before a hearing at the Beersheba district court in southern Israel on Aug. 4, 2016. Halabi is accused by Israel of funneling millions of dollars in aid money to Hamas in Gaza, a charge denied by the Islamist militant group. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Dudu Grunshpan *Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-WORLDVISION-HAMAS, originally transmitted on Aug. 4, 2016.

JERUSALEM (RNS) World Vision, one of the world’s largest Christian humanitarian aid organizations, said it has “no reason … at this time” to believe that its operations manager in Gaza funneled tens of millions of dollars in donations to Hamas’ military wing, as Israeli security officials claimed.

The organization said in a statement Thursday (Aug. 4) it was “shocked” to learn that the Shin Bet, Israel’s domestic security service, had charged Mohammad El Halabi with providing support to Hamas.

The Shin Bet said in a statement that during interrogations over the past six weeks Halabi admitted to being a Hamas activist and using his position “to divert the humanitarian organization’s funds and resources from the needy to benefit of Hamas’s terrorist and military activities.”

The security agency said “tens of millions of dollars” in donations have funded weapons, “terror” tunnels into Israel, a Hamas military base and Hamas militants’ salaries.

Both the U.S. and Israel consider Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip, a terror organization.

World Vision, whose worldwide budget is close to $3 billion, said the Gaza programs “have been subject to regular internal and independent audits, independent evaluations, and a broad range of internal controls aimed at ensuring that assets reach their intended beneficiaries and are used in compliance with applicable laws and donor requirements.”

The organization said that “based on the information available to us at this time, we have no reason to believe that the allegations are true.”

But Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, president of Shurat HaDin, an Israeli legal rights institute that provides representation and resources for victims of Palestinian terror attacks, said the Shin Bet’s charges should come as no surprise to World Vision’s leadership.

“For years we have been warning that World Vision is funding Palestinian terror groups in Gaza. World Vision has repeatedly denied our charges and refused to seriously investigate where its funds are going. Who knows how many of Hamas’ missiles and stabbing attacks were funded by World Vision after they were put on notice that they were financing Palestinian terror.”

Darshan-Leitner said some of the assistance to Gaza by foreign aid organizations “is directly responsible for the murder of scores of Jews in Israel.”

Gerald Steinberg, the president of NGO Monitor, an Israeli watchdog group, agreed.

Cash-strapped Hamas “couldn’t build those terror tunnels and run its operations without funding from foreign humanitarian aid organizations,” Steinberg said.

World Vision, which has provided assistance to Palestinian children for four decades, said it will “carefully review any evidence presented to us and will take appropriate actions based on that evidence. We continue to call for a fair legal process.”

(Michele Chabin is RNS’ Jerusalem correspondent)

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Michele Chabin

19 Comments

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  • Let’s wait and see. “Israeli watchdog group,” also has reason to turn US churches away from their attention to the plight of Gazans and Palestinians in general. With votes across America, including among major church organizations being taken on boycotts, I am sure the current Israeli regime would like less, not more sympathy for the people of Gaza. World Vision is showing photos and telling donors about the suffering there. That by itself is damaging to the regime of Netanyahu.

  • World Vision is naturally going to deny such an embarrassing situation. But I’m “betting” on Shin Bet to uncover the real deal regarding this Hamas mess.

    Unlike America, Israel is not easily snookered by terrorists.

  • As usual Netanyahu and his band of murderers (Shin Bet) are spreading their hate against the Palestians without facts. World Vision has denied Shin Bet’s allegations. Palestinian children at Gaza are starving, suffering from PTSD, some in Israeli jails and others whose family has been killed.

    Do you not watch TV? Have you not seen the carnage in Gaza? Here are some stats: Since 2005, 23 out of every 24 conflict deaths have been Palestinian – many of them are Palestinians children. And the U.S. continues to ‘give’ Israel $3.15 billion per year. This money is used for state of the art weapons. Do you not see something wrong with this?

  • This is a story worth following, and I would hope some genuine clarification based on good sound evidence can resolve the question either way. World Vision has had my support in the past, though I have specifically directed my gifts towards Africa’s mid-continental region as opposed to the Middle East. On the other hand, I have seen it alleged that World Vision has collaborated with the CIA extensively; an allegation I have no way of determining as true or not. If true, I would find it troubling to say the least.

  • Carnage in Gaza is caused by Hamas, sometimes directly, and sometimes by provoking Israel. Hamas steals from the people of Gaza as well as this stupid “evangelical Christian” charity. Israel has to build defensive weapons such as “Iron Dome” to fend off the evil rockets sent without care by the Hamas murderers.

    If the “government” of Gaza spent as much effort on helping the people rebuild as it does on tunnels and military, the people would be much better off.

  • Good comment, Edward. I too, feel more information is needed–this article appears to be built on innuendo to fit someone’s political agenda. World Vision is naturally suspect, since they’ve had deep roots in the refugee communities, and are seeking to help real people before asking about anyone’s politics–the mark of a genuine Christian organization. But it’s entirely possible that some in-country national working for them has subverted resources to Hamas. I can’t imagine any such in-country leader for World Vision having “millions” at his disposal without careful oversight.

  • Do you have a source other than the online wing of Hamas? Electronicintafada.net is not a reliable or objectively credible in of itself.

  • This is what Christian Peacemaker Teams said on their link to the story:

    “This arrest is part of the Israeli government’s crackdown on NGOs that work in Palestine, including Christian Peacemaker Teams.The accusation emerged after the Shin Bet arrested World Vision’s Director in Gaza and held him for forty days without evidence or trial.”

  • And this will be devastating for the work of World Vision and other ngo’s operating in Gaza.

    Here is the Oxfam report on the situation in Gaza, published in May. https://www.oxfam.org/en/emergencies/crisis-gaza

    Highlights:

    (Because of the blockade) “80% of the people rely on humanitarian aid.”

    “More than 100,000 people (more than half of these children) have had their homes destroyed, 75,000 still displaced. 96 per cent of water supply is unsafe to drink and there are power cuts of 12 hours a day. Restrictions on essential building materials mean that only 9.7 per cent of homes have been rebuilt.”

  • http://www.discoverthenetworks.org/Articles/Christian%20Peacemaker%20Teams%20Anti%20Israel.html

    “CPT continues to play an active role in the international NGO campaign
    to delegitimize Israel by identifying it with apartheid South Africa and
    promoting boycotts and divestment (the “Durban Strategy”). The CPT delegation in Hebron hosted “solidarity visits” in the March 2006 “global advocacy week concerning the situation in Palestine and Israel.” Led by Palestinian Christian NGO Sabeel
    and the Joint Advocacy initiative of the East Jerusalem YMCA, this
    advocacy week claimed to “alleviate Palestinian suffering,” but focused
    all criticism on Israel, and included meetings with biased and
    politicized NGOs such as ICAHD. “

  • This “without evidence or trial” statement gets me. How do you know there is no evidence ? And in the country I live in , Northern Ireland, the trial doesnt take place until the police investigation is complete, usually months but in complicated cases could be a year after arrest.
    Stop sticking up for terrorists !

  • Please direct that upthread. I didn’t make that statement gapaul did. I am with you on this.

  • If it proves to be true that monies donated by Christian people to World Vision to alleviate suffering was instead used to purchase arms to inflict suffering then it is only right that questions are asked of how other NGOs are operating in Gaza and nearby.
    A country that has less than 1% of its population from one of the main religions of the world suggests discrimination against that religion.
    http://www.opendoorsuk.org/persecution/worldwatch/palestinian_territories.php

  • As one of those “Christian people” who has donated to World Vision, I also recognize that there is injustice all around. Israel’s overwhelming collective punishment in Gaza, is counterproductive to say the least. The blockade has made life in Gaza even more impossible than it was before — which forces more people into sympathy and solidarity with Hamas, which is, granted, dangerous and untrustworthy. What options do people have?. If this particular case results in decreased humanitarian aid for all the people of Gaza, it will be tragic. Plenty of blame and bad behavior all around. 50 percent of those who live in Gaza are under 15 years old. Embittering another generation then punishing them for behavior born of desperation — seems to be Israel’s MO right now.

    Here is the perspective of a Palestinian Christian. http://www.christianpost.com/news/palestinian-christian-western-christians-dont-understand-gaza-israeli-conflict-123272/

  • Hamas is an antisemitic group that hates all Jews everywhere. They want to attack and kill Jews. They don’t care about ending the occupation.

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