by WorldTribune Staff, August 4, 2016
The director of a Christian charity in the Gaza Strip has been arrested and charged with funneling millions in donations meant to ease suffering in Gaza to Hamas for military operations.
Israeli investigators arrested Mohammed El-Halabi, a Hamas operative who they say infiltrated the charity World Vision and rose to become its director. He used his position to divert $6.9 million a year to the militant group, the investigators from Shin Bet, said.
Israel said the case was proof of “Hamas’s cynical exploitation of international humanitarian aid and resources donated by Western nations.”
The money included around 60,000 pounds from Britain which was used to fund a Hamas military base in Gaza code-named “Palestine,” the Shin Bet said.
“$80,000 received from the United Kingdom went to construction costs of the base, paid in cash, while salaries were paid to terrorists who worked in the construction of the base.”
Israel said El-Halabi, a Palestinian from Gaza, is a lifelong member of Hamas and received military training in the early 2000s before Hamas leaders ordered him “to infiltrate World Vision” in 2005.
Shin Bet said El-Halabi “rose through the ranks of the charity until he became its director in Gaza, giving him control of millions of dollars in budgets.” He then allegedly used his position “to steer money back to Hamas through a variety of methods including putting militants on the payroll and issuing tenders for humanitarian projects that never existed.”
El-Halabi is also accused of transferring construction equipment and building materials to Hamas, which then used them for building bases and tunnels to infiltrate into Israel.
“The humanitarian aid donated for the residents of the Gaza Strip was in actual fact given almost exclusively to Hamas terrorists and their families,” the Shin Bet said.
The money was also allegedly used to buy weapons for Hamas from Egyptian groups in the Sinai desert while Mohammed Morsi was in power.
El-Halabi was arrested on June 15 at the crossing between Gaza and Israel and was held without charge for 50 days before Israel announced its indictment against him on Aug. 4.
World Vision, one of the world’s largest Christian charities, said it was standing by its employee: “Based on the information available to us at this time, we have no reason to believe that the allegations are true,” the charity said.