Last Thursday Israel’s internal security agency, Shin Bet, indicted the director of World Vision in the Gaza strip for siphoning off millions in charity money and funneling it to Hamas. From the Washington Post:
Mohammed el-Halabi established a “systematic and sophisticated mechanism” to divert up to $50 million over the years to the militant group, which rules Gaza, creating fictitious humanitarian projects and doctoring inflated receipts in order to get the funds to Hamas, said the Shin Bet…
To divert the funds, the Shin Bet said el-Halabi initiated fictitious projects meant to help farmers, the disabled and fishermen.
He would falsely list Hamas operatives as workers on those projects and write up inflated receipts, according to the Shin Bet. Companies hired to carry out certain projects under fictitious tenders were “made aware” that 60 percent of the project’s funds were destined for Hamas, the Shin Bet statement said, adding that some of World Vision’s budget was used to pay the salaries of Hamas operatives.
Today, World Vision suggested the amount of money Israel has accused Mohammed el-Halabi of diverting to Hamas doesn’t add up. The Associated Press reports the group claims $50 million is more than its entire Gaza budget over the last decade:
World Vision Germany spokeswoman Silvia Holten said the charity’s budget in Gaza in the last decade totaled $22.5 million. She said World Vision has stopped its Gaza operations while investigations continue. Germany and Australia suspended donations to World Vision in Gaza amid the allegations.
“There is a huge gap in these numbers the Israeli government is telling and what we know,” Holten said.
A spokesman for Israel’s Foreign Ministry disputed that, telling the AP, “They are trying to belittle their role and to show they are much smaller than they really are.” Perhaps the most interesting revelation about what el-Halabi has said to Shin Bet was hinted at last week. From the Washington Post:
The security agency also said that since his arrest, el-Halabi divulged intelligence about employees working for United Nations agencies and other aid groups who were also assisting Hamas, without elaborating.
The Post points out that, prior to his job for World Vision, el-Halabi worked for the United Nations.