Friday, August 5, 2016

Israel Accuses World Vision of Sending $50 Million to Hamas

The largest Evangelical Christian charity organization in the world is World Vision. And their offices were recently raided by Israeli authorities. One of its employees has been arrestedand has been detained for over forty days.
The Israel-Palestine offices of the world’s largest evangelical Christian charity have been searched and a Gaza-based staffer has been detained for more than 40 days without evidence or trial, raising questions about the Israeli government’s use of “administrative detention.”
World Vision, one of the largest humanitarian organizations in the world, has operated largely without controversy in the Israel-Palestine region for more than 40 years according to its website, which says its staff works in “Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza serving the most poor and marginalized.” But ThinkProgress has learned that one of its Gaza-based employees, Mohammad El Halabi, was detained while working in Gaza, and that the group’s offices were searched or raided in recent weeks by authorities. (ThinkProgress, August 1, 2016.)
Now the Israeli authorities are claiming that this employee of World Vision diverted about $50 million to Hamas. However World Vision's charity activities in Gaza only amount to $2-3 million a year.
The Australian Government has given the US-based Christian group more than $5 million over the past three years for projects in the Gaza Strip, the ABC reports.
But Mr Costello said World Vision's program in Gaza is only around $2 to $3 million a year, and yet somehow the organisation has been charged with diverting $50 million through Mr El Halabi who he said had been with World Vision for 10 years.
"If every cent has been diverted, it doesn't add up to $50 million," he said.
"I've been there, the [Australian] Department of Foreign Affairs has been there, PwC [professional services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers] audit our books."
World Vision is there for Palestinian children and wants a fair legal process, he said. ...
”Based on the information available to us at this time, we have no reason to believe that the allegations are true. We will carefully review any evidence presented to us and will take appropriate actions based on that evidence." (SBS, August 5, 2016. Hat tip: Ben White.)
What is the evidence for this allegation? One Israeli official stated the following:
“After a long investigation, it’s clear that Hamas is using the money which the world donates to international organisations such as World Vision in Gaza, and the evidence is the confession of the detainee Mohammad El Halabi, the director of the organisation in Gaza, that he was transferring money to Hamas, millions of dollars.” he said. (SBS, August 5, 2016. Hat tip: Ben White.)
One wonders how long in detention he had been before he confessed. 

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