World Vision 'shocked' over staff member's alleged links to Hamas

Cheryl Sanders
August 9, 2016

Australia said on Friday it was suspending funding for relief group World Vision's operations in the Palestinian Territories after allegations its Gaza representative funnelled millions of dollars to the Islamist militant group Hamas.

Further media reports have claimed he is accused of funnelling approximately £5.3m a year of World Vision funds to Hamas - including some £60,000 worth of British donations.

World Vision Germany spokeswoman Silvia Holten said on Monday the charity's budget in Gaza in the last decade totalled $22.5 million.

Nonetheless, World Vision has halted its Gaza operations while investigations are ongoing, Holten said. Germany and Australia suspended donations to World Vision in Gaza amid the allegations.

Israel indicted el-Halabi last Thursday.

Hamas spokesperson Abdullatif al-Kanou' said the group had "no connection to al-Halabi and therefore, all Israeli accusations are counterfeit and aim to suppress Gazans and toughen the blockade".

The charity confirmed it would "carefully review any evidence" and take "appropriate actions based on that evidence", following the charges against El Halabi.

World Vision did not immediately respond to the charge. Darshan-Leitner said she is exploring suing World Vision in the United States for aiding and abetting terrorism.

The statement goes on to allege Halabi "established and promoted humanitarian projects and fictitious agricultural associations that acted as cover for the transfer of monies to Hamas".

World Vision added that al-Halabi has worked with the group for 10 years, and that they have "no reason to believe" the allegations against their employee are true. And a spokesman for Hamas in Gaza, Hazem Qasem, called Israel's allegations "lies". World Vision has detailed procedures and control mechanisms in place to ensure that the funds entrusted to us are spent in accordance with applicable legal requirements and in ways that do not fuel conflict but rather contribute to peace.

Halabi had been running the group's Gaza operations since 2010, according to a senior Israeli security official.

World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families, and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. World Vision serves all people regardless of religion, race, ethnicity or gender.

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