World Vision said Monday that there is a “huge gap” between the amount of money, material, and other aid Israeli authorities claim the global aid charity’s Gaza director funneled to militant group Hamas and what it actually spends in the region, the Associated Press writes.
Mohammad El Halabi, the U.S.-based nonprofit’s Gaza director, was indicted Thursday, seven weeks after his arrest. Israel’s Shin Bet security agency alleges that in the past five years Mr. Halabi steered 60 percent of World Vision’s Gaza aid to Hamas, amounting to $7.2 million a year. Silvia Holten, a spokeswoman for World Vision Germany, said the charity’s total budget for Gaza in the past decade was $22.5 million.
Israeli Foreign Ministry Spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon accused World Vision of “trying to belittle their role” by not counting in-kind donations. Ms. Holton said the $22.5 million figure included all the group’s giving in Gaza. She said World Vision has suspended operations in the region while investigations continue. Through his lawyer, Mr. Halabi denied the allegations, and Hamas said it had no connection to the charity official, Reuters reports.