In August we reported on the breaking news that the director of World Vision in Gaza, Mohammed El-Halabi (pictured with Mike McRoberts), was arrested by Israel for allegedly diverting tens of millions of dollars of aid and donations to Hamas terror.
When the allegations broke, World Vision announced it was “shocked” and said it has “no reason to believe” they are true but will “carefully review any evidence presented to us” and “take appropriate action based on that evidence”. World Vision has now suspended operations in Gaza and 120 staff have been laid off.
This follows Israel freezing World Vision bank accounts in Jerusalem. Other governments have also taken the allegations seriously – Australia and Germany halted funding to World Vision, with representatives from both countries making strong statements:
World Vision massively damages the trust necessary for aid work for the people in Gaza … Hamas is a terrorist organization, which should not be financed with taxpayer funds.”Volker Beck, German Green Party MP
Any diversion of the generous support of the Australian and international community for military or terrorist purposes by Hamas is to be deplored and can only harm the Palestinian people.”Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Shalom.Kiwi filed questions to the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade under the Official Information Act. MFAT responded that the New Zealand government has made no payments to World Vision for projects in Gaza, so Kiwi taxpayers can rest assured in this instance.
However, New Zealand is a core funder of UNRWA and has praised their work, which has been linked directly to Hamas terror activities and incitement to violence – leading some to call UNRWA one of the greatest obstacles to peace. UNRWA and other aid organisations may also be under investigation by Israel for supporting Hamas terror.
NGO monitor has warned that UNRWA along with other international aid organizations that have similar operations in Gaza, such as Oxfam, Care, Christian Aid should take note of the World Vision debacle. The failure to properly prevent the siphoning of funds stems in part from a lack of will on the part of humanitarian organizations, many of which reject attempts to incorporate security concerns into funding guidelines on the basis that they are politically motivated. This is challenged by Prof. Gerald Steinberg, President of NGO Monitor, when he says
World Vision’s failures in Gaza highlight the problems of a multi-billion dollar NGO industry that remains largely unregulated and unexamined… To avoid enabling murderous Hamas attacks, and compounding the suffering of people in Gaza, aid groups need to apply surveillance and intelligence technologies, particularly regarding employees and their activities.”Prof. Gerald Steinberg
We hope that any and all allegations will be taken seriously and that our government will take appropriate steps to ensure that as little money as possible from New Zealand goes to supporting terror.