August 04, 2016

World Vision’s Gaza Chief Accused by Israel of Aiding Hamas

Global aid group World Vision’s Gaza director has been detained by Israeli authorities on suspicion of funneling tens of millions of dollars from the charity to the military wing of the Islamist Palestinian group Hamas, Israeli daily Haaretz and the Associated Press report. The arrest of Mohammad El Halabi by the Shin Bet, Israel’s security service, occurred in June at a Gaza crossing point but was previously subject to a gag order.

The Shin Bet alleges Mr. Halabi steered World Vision funds to Hamas, which holds elected leadership in the Gaza Strip, for military purposes such as buying weapons and digging tunnels. The security service also raided the U.S.-based Christian charity’s East Jerusalem offices two weeks ago but said the charity itself is not a target of the investigation and that top World Vision officials were unaware of the alleged offenses.

Mr. Halabi joined World Vision in 2005 in what the Shin Bet contends was a Hamas plant. The charity, which is headquartered in Federal Way, Wash., and operates in nearly 100 countries, said in an online statement that it was “shocked” by the accusations against Mr. Halabi and has “no reason to believe” they are true.