Israel

Australia Suspends Payments to Charity Whose Gaza Director Gave Millions to Hamas

The Australian government announced Friday that it has suspended aid to the charity World Vision after Israel’s internal security agency, the Shin Bet, charged the head of World Vision’s Gaza branch with funneling tens of millions of dollars worth of donations to the terrorist organization Hamas.

The Shin Bet revealed on Thursday that Mohammad el-Halabi, who began working for World Vision in 2005 and rose to lead its Gaza operations by 2010, had joined the global charity in order to infiltrate it on behalf of Hamas’ main militia. In the six years he served as head of Gaza operations, el-Halabi is estimated to have transferred $7.5 million a year to Hamas in order to pay fighters and procure weapons and construction materials for tunnels.

A spokesman for the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade called the allegations “deeply troubling.”

“Any diversion of the generous support of the Australian and international community for military or terrorist purposes by Hamas is to be deplored and can only harm the Palestinian people,” the spokesman told the Australian Associated Press. “We are suspending the provision of further funding to World Vision for programs in the Palestinian Territories until the investigation is complete.”

Australia had committed to give World Vision five million Australian dollars ($3.8 million U.S. dollars) over a five-year period for agricultural projects and to help with childhood trauma in Gaza.

World Vision Australia CEO Rev. Tom Costello denied any connection between his organization and Hamas. “We have absolutely nothing to do with terror,” he said to the Australian Associated Press. “We audit every cent that goes through.”

The Shin Bet also stated that El-Halabi admitted that his father Halil, who for many years headed the UN Relief and Works Agency’s educational institutions in Gaza, belongs to Hamas and used his position to aid Hamas.

[Photo: Bluerasberry / WikiCommons ]