The allegations that the Gaza director of the charity World Vision siphoned tens of millions of dollars to the terrorist group Hamas represents a “profound betrayal of trust,” one of the United Nations’ top officials dealing with Palestinian affairs said in a statement Monday.
The Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security agency, announced on Thursday that Mohammed el-Halabi had embezzled aid money to help Hamas purchase weapons, build terror tunnels, and even give bonuses to terrorists. Robert Piper, the UN Coordinator for Humanitarian Aid and Development Activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, said that the allegations “raise serious concerns for humanitarian organizations working in Gaza. Redirecting relief away from its intended beneficiaries would be a profound betrayal of the trust put in a senior manager by his employer and by the organization’s donors.”
If the charges are found to be true, “these actions deserve unreserved condemnation; Gaza’s demoralized and vulnerable citizens deserve so much better.”
Former Shin Bet director Avi Dichter, now the head of the Knesset’s influential Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, said Monday that the problem of aid organizations funneling money to Hamas is widespread, but the world remains “naive” to the seriousness of the problem.
World Vision is “only a small example,” Dichter said in an interview with Israel Radio. He added that World Vision and other similar organizations “know very well that they are funding Hamas.”
The fact that the donating world, which is recruited to help refugees and the needy, doesn’t understand that its cash is being pumped for terror uses… it is a naive world to the point of being hideous.
The United Nations and “enlightened countries,” Dichter said, “fall into the trap set for them by Hamas and Islamic Jihad,” one that “plays out year after year after year.” As an example, Dichter noted that United Nations Relief and Works Agency, the agency whose sole purpose is to help Palestinian refugees, has some 30,000 clerks responsible for five million people. “It is clear that the number of UNRWA clerks who are working for Hamas is close to 100 percent,” he charged.
Australia became the first country to react to the Shin Bet’s charges, announcing last Friday that it would suspend its donations to World Vision until Israel’s investigation is complete. Germany has also announced that it was suspending its donations to the group.
Columbia University professor Rashid Khalidi has noted that “humanitarian and charitable institutions throughout Palestine employ personnel regardless of sectarian or political affiliation and offer services on a similar basis. Thus, UNRWA, NGO-run and public hospitals and clinics, for example, employ members of different political groups such as Fatah, the PFLP [Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine], Hamas, and Islamic Jihad, without reference to their belonging to a specific group.”
For more on the issue of corruption in the Palestinian aid sector, read The Real Palestinian Refugee Crisis, written by Asaf Romirowsky for the May 2014 issue of The Tower.
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