World Vision, accused by Israel of funneling millions to Hamas, denied its impact and tried to hide the extent of its activities in Gaza.
The international charity World Vision said on Monday that Israel has accused the charity’s Gaza Strip director of funneling a massive sum of money to the Hamas terror organization.
Israel’s Shin Bet security agency said Mohammed el-Halabi siphoned about $7.2 million a year to the Islamic terror group over a period of five years. The security agency said this is roughly 60 percent of World Vision’s total Gaza budget.
World Vision Germany spokeswoman Silvia Holten claimed the charity’s budget in Gaza in the last decade totaled only $22.5 million. She said World Vision has stopped its Gaza operations while investigations continue. Germany and Australia suspended donations to World Vision in Gaza amid the allegations.
“There is a huge gap in these numbers the Israeli government is telling and what we know,” Holten asserted.
Israel indicted el-Halabi last Thursday.
According to the Shin Bet, el-Halabi crafted an elaborate scheme to funnel funds, food, medical supplies and agricultural equipment to Hamas. He fraudulently listed the children of Hamas operatives as wounded, created straw organizations, and inflated project costs to divert cash, the agency said. Building supplies intended to support farming projects were transferred to Hamas for constructing terror tunnels and military installations, according to the Shin Bet.
Israeli Foreign Ministry Spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said that World Vision’s budget does not include in-kind donations.
“They are trying to belittle their role and to show they are much smaller than they really are,” Nahshon said of World Vision. He did not provide proof of his claim, but said el-Halabi’s legal team will have access to the evidence. He added that el-Halabi confessed to his crimes.
Holten said the World Vision budget includes all in-kind donations, but she did not provide a detailed report of the organization’s spending in Gaza in recent years. She said World Vision performs stringent internal audits and commissions external audits from outside companies as well.
El-Halabi’s father has denied he is a member of Hamas. A spokesman for Hamas in Gaza, Hazem Qasem, has called the allegations “lies.”
By: AP and United with Israel Staff
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