NEWS BRIEF Israel has accused the head of World Vision in the Gaza Strip of funneling about $43 million in funds to Hamas over the past six years.
Mohammad El Halabi, the manager of Gaza operations for World Vision, the Christian charity group, was arrested in June at the Erez Crossing between Israel and Gaza while on his way home from meetings in Israel. He spent the next nearly two months in Israeli detention. Israel charged Halabi on Thursday with providing support to Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip and which Israel and the U.S. regard as a terrorist organization.
Haaretz has more on the case based on a briefing given to reporters by an official from Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security service, and because a gag order imposed in the case was lifted Thursday. Here’s more from the Israeli newspaper:
The charge sheet says that Halabi, with a masters degree in engineering, joined Hamas's armed wing Izzedin al-Qassam in 2004 and was asked a year later to infiltrate a humanitarian organization so as “to be close to decision makers in a foreign organization, to be involved in the group and operate secretly to advance al-Qassam's interests.”
The Shin Bet accuses Halabi of joining World Vision and sending its funds to Hamas’ military wing, some of it to fund digging military-related tunnels and to purchase weapons.
The Shin Bet alleges that a sum of $80,000 contributed by British donors to assist needy families, and support civilian projects in Gaza were used to build a Hamas position in the Gaza town of Beit Hanun, to pay Hamas activists’ salaries and bonuses members who had fought against Israel in the 2014 war.
Halabi’s attorney rejected the charges, telling Haaretz the fact the World Vision official was detained for 55 days before charges were announced proves, in the words of the newspaper, “there’s a problem with the evidence.”