NY Times reporter makes excuses for Gaza World Vision chief diverting funds to Hamas
World Vision International is an Evangelical Christian humanitarian aid, development, and advocacy organization. It was founded in 1950 by Robert Pierce as a service organization to meet the emergency needs of missionaries. In 1975 development work was added to World Vision's objectives. It is active in more than 90 countries with a total revenue including grants, product and foreign donations of $2.79 billion (2011).
On Thursday, Israel's General Security Agency charged Mohammed el-Halabi, the Gaza director of World Vision, with siphoning off $43 million of aid money from World Vision in the past six years and giving it too Hamas.
Mohammad El Halabi, the manager of Gaza operations for World Vision, the Christian charity group, was arrested in June at the Erez Crossing between Israel and Gaza while on his way home from meetings in Israel. He spent the next nearly two months in Israeli detention. Israel charged Halabi on Thursday with providing support to Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip and which Israel and the U.S. regard as a terrorist organization.
Haaretz has more on the case based on a briefing given to reporters by an official from Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security service, and because a gag order imposed in the case was lifted Thursday. Here’s more from the Israeli newspaper:
The charge sheet says that Halabi, with a masters degree in engineering, joined Hamas's armed wing Izzedin al-Qassam in 2004 and was asked a year later to infiltrate a humanitarian organization so as “to be close to decision makers in a foreign organization, to be involved in the group and operate secretly to advance al-Qassam's interests.”
The Shin Bet accuses Halabi of joining World Vision and sending its funds to Hamas’ military wing, some of it to fund digging military-related tunnels and to purchase weapons.
The government of Australia doesn't think there's a problem with the evidence: They immediately suspended all aid to World Vision projects in the 'Palestinian territories.'The Shin Bet alleges that a sum of $80,000 contributed by British donors to assist needy families, and support civilian projects in Gaza were used to build a Hamas position in the Gaza town of Beit Hanun, to pay Hamas activists’ salaries and bonuses members who had fought against Israel in the 2014 war.Halabi’s attorney rejected the charges, telling Haaretz the fact the World Vision official was detained for 55 days before charges were announced proves, in the words of the newspaper, “there’s a problem with the evidence.”
A Shin Bet official cited by The New York Times said there was no evidence that World Vision had been aware of Halabi’s alleged activities. But Tim Costello, the head of World Vision Australia, which is heavily involved in the Gaza project, told the Times the organization was “very worried” about the impact of the allegations. Indeed, the Australian government said Thursday it was suspending funding to the group’s projects in the Palestinian territories.On Friday, Germany joined Australia in suspending aid to World Vision projects in Gaza.
World Vision announced on Friday that it will not receive funds from the German government because of the allegations Hamas misused funds, according to a report in the Berlin-based Tagesspiegel.But all of that isn't enough for the New York Times' Diaa Hadid. Although she didn't write this in the newspaper (which perhaps might have had the integrity not to publish it), on her personal Twitter page, she was busy making excuses for el-Halabi.
“The 3.6 million euro, which we received from the [German] Federal Development Ministry and [German] Foreign Affairs Ministry for new projects in the region will no longer be provided until the accusations are clarified,” said a spokeswoman for the World Vision.
Volker Beck, the German Green Party MP and head of the German-Israel parliamentary group in the Bundestag, said in a statement: “World Vision massively damages the trust necessary for aid work for the people in Gaza,” adding that “Hamas is a terrorist organization, which should not be financed with tax-payer funds.”
The paper reported that as much as 1.1 million euro from Germany was transferred to World Vision in Gaza since 2010. Israel’s Foreign Ministry said that it welcomed Australia and Germany’s suspension of funds.
That excuses everything, doesn't it?The man Israel accuses of diverting @WorldVision funds to Hamas lost 7 relatives in 2014 war, incl pregnant cousin https://t.co/sPOnhkfpHd— Diaa Hadid ضياء حديد (@diaahadid) August 4, 2016