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August 30, 2016

World Vision Says Its Review Cleared Staffer Charged in Gaza

Christian aid charity World Vision says it conducted an internal investigation of its Gaza director months before he was accused by Israeli authorities of diverting funds to militant Palestinian group Hamas and found no evidence of wrongdoing, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Kevin Jenkins, president of World Vision International, said a former employee leveled allegations of financial impropriety against Mohammad El Halabi, but the internal review did not substantiate the claims. Mr. Halabi was detained in June and charged earlier this month with funneling tens of millions of dollars from the charity to Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip and is considered a terrorist group by Israel and the United States. He was scheduled to appear in court Tuesday for a preliminary hearing.

World Vision has said Israel’s estimate of the amount Mr. Halabi allegedly steered to Hamas far exceeds its total spending in Gaza. Mr. Jenkins said the nonprofit has retained an independent accounting firm to take a new look at the charges. “We want the truth to come out,” he said. “I do have confidence in our systems.” The case has fueled concern among aid officials in the Palestinian territories that their operations are being exploited by anti-Israel groups, potentially putting donor funding at risk.