The British Government has put a stop on any taxpayers’ money going to Christian charity World Vision whose Gaza-based manager has been accused of funnelling cash to Hamas.
In a statement issued on Tuesday by Priti Patel MP, secretary of state for international development, she confirms that the government will “not consider any future funding… until World Vision has completed its audit”.
Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI) welcomed the Department for International Development’s call for a “rapid and thorough investigation” in response to a scandal that has rocked a huge global charity working in some of the world’s poorest areas.
In a letter to Jewish community leaders, Patel said she was “deeply concerned” about Israeli allegations that Mohammad El-Halabi, manager of operations in the Gaza Strip, had been diverting millions of dollars to Hamas for years.
Patel said her department “does not provide any current funding to World Vision operations in Gaza, or in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs) more widely,” adding that the charity itself had suspended all Gaza-based operations.
CFI honorary president Lord (Stuart) Polak welcomed the news, saying: “We have been campaigning for many years for transparency and it is clear that DFID are taking this matter seriously.”
He added: “The hard working taxpayers of this country will be relieved to learn that every effort is being made to ensure that their hard earned money will not end up in the pockets of wrong people but will be helping those that are most in need.”
El-Halabi was arrested last month at a border crossing and accused of using his position “to divert the humanitarian organisation’s funds and resources from the needy to benefit of Hamas’s terrorist and military activities”.
Israel’s internal security service Shin Bet said money from British donors had been used to fund Hamas military bases, pay militants’ salaries and finance the tunnels through which militants have attacked Israeli citizens.
A joint statement by the Board of Deputies and the Jewish Leadership Council read: “We strongly welcome the assurances we have received from the Secretary of State that DFID are not supporting World Vision in Gaza.
“We are encouraged by how seriously she is taking this matter and by her non-negotiable commitment to Israel’s security.”