Israel accuses World Vision of giving millions to Hamas
Mohammed Halabi, head of the humanitarian group projects in Gaza, is accused of giving $ 7.2 million per year to the Islamists since 2010. The man was arrested in June on the border with Israel. World Vision leaders: "No reason or evidence to believe the allegations are true".
Gaza (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The Israeli intelligence agency Shin Bet says the chief of World Vision in Gaza has funded Hamas with millions of dollars from the humanitarian organization. Mohammed Halabi is charged with having diverted about 60% of funds for Gaza to the Islamist movement's coffers since 2010. World Vision responded by saying that currently there is no evidence to believe the charges.
In a statement, the humanitarian group ensures that it carried out regular audits of its Gaza programmes and was "shocked" by the charges. "We will carefully review any evidence presented to us and will take appropriate actions based on that evidence," the statement said.
Hamas has denied any involvement and through one of its spokesmen has denied having contacts with Halabi.
The Shin Bet announced that Mohammed Halabi, 38, was arrested last June on the border near Erez on charges of terrorism. It said the aid money he funnelled to Hamas, and to its military wing the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, amounted to about .2m a year. It claimed he set up fictitious projects, falsely registered Hamas members as employees. The security service said these funds were used, amongst other things, for the digging of tunnels intended to be used for attacks on Israeli civilian communities, the building of military bases and for the purchase of weapons.
World Vision works in cooperation with the United Nations in various countries of the world. It has been present in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories since 1975. In a 2015 document, the aid group said it had assisted some 90 thousand people in Gaza, home to nearly 2 million people dependent on foreign aid.
The UN leaders said they were "aware of the serious accusations" brought by Israel.