The Gaza-based head of a major Christian charity supported by UK aid has been charged with funnelling millions of pounds to Hamas.
Mohammed Halabi, head of World Vision in the Strip, was arrested in June by Israel’s internal security service Shin Bet, and will now appear before a court, charged with running a “sophisticated” funding mechanism.
Israel alleges that Halabi was a Hamas mole, planted in to the organisation ten years ago, who subsequently rose to head it, a position from which he secretly channelled up to £5 million per year to Hamas personnel, including armed combatants.
Charged with funding terror, he is alleged to have diverted up to 60 percent of the charity’s Gaza budget to the Strip’s rulers since 2010, including about £1 million in annual payments to the group’s armed wing.
The Israeli embassy in London said some of the British funds had been used to build a Hamas military outpost in the northern Gaza Strip. A spokesman claimed that “$80,000 received from the UK went to construction costs of the base, paid in cash, while salaries were paid to terrorists who worked in the construction of the base”.
U.S-based World Vision refused to comment, but Jewish leaders in the UK were quick to ask questions of the Department for International Development (DfID) and the European Union (EU), both of which fund the charity.
“It is well-documented that Hamas uses income to build up its military capability, including the construction of tunnels which have been used to launch terror attacks within Israel,” said Board of Deputies’ vice-president Richard Verber. “It appears that the manager in question used sophisticated methods to transfer funds to Hamas.”
He added: “This raises serious questions about the mechanisms in place to prevent such an outrage occurring. We also note that World Vision is supported by DfID, the European Commission and a host of other international organisations who we expect will investigate this case with the utmost urgency.”
Luke Akehurst, director of We Believe in Israel, a BICOM group, said: “Kind-hearted Brits have given tens of thousands of pounds to a Christian charity to help needy children in Gaza, only to find out they were duped and their money stolen and diverted to fund Hamas’s terrorist activities. It’s outrageous.”
Chief Executive of the Jewish Leadership Council Simon Johnson said: “These allegations must be investigated and, if proven, the international community must respond.
“Accusations of this nature raise serious questions regarding Department for International Development and the Disasters Emergency Committee funding and both organisations needs to act to ensure that international funding does not end up in the hands of terrorist organisations.”
Michael McCann, Director of the Israel-Britain Alliance said the allegations aren’t “just an appalling story about the abuse of charity donations. It is a dire reminder that Gaza is still a gangster state, overseen by a brutal jihadi mafia.”
He adds: “Hamas’ single-minded obsession with jihad against Israel not only prevents the damage from the last war being fixed; it also makes the next war inevitable as well.”