Saturday, August 13, 2016

Christian Charity 'Stands By' Its Terror-Funding Official - Joseph Puder

by Joseph Puder

How can one trust an organization that looked the other way when its Hamas employees embezzled millions of dollars?

Mohammad El Halabi, age 38, the regional operations manager at the international NGO World Vision, is not what the spokesperson of World Vision claims he is. The world’s largest Christian charity issued a statement saying, “World Vision stands by Mohammad who is a widely respected and well regarded humanitarian, field manager and trusted colleague of over a decade. He has displayed compassionate leadership on behalf of the children and communities of Gaza through difficult and challenging times, and has always worked diligently and professionally in fulfilling his duties."

Among El Halabi’s “duties,” according to Israel’s security, the Shin Bet (in Hebrew Shirut Bitahon), was to divert millions of dollars intended for Gaza’s civilian population, to the Hamas’s military wing. He also stole food and health packages intended to reach poor Gazans and injured children, to be used by Hamas terrorists. In the indictment filed against El Halabi last week, he is accused of funneling tens of millions of dollars in aid money from the U.S. and Europe, which was intended for the people of Gaza to fund the construction of terror tunnels aimed at kidnapping and killing Israeli military personnel as well as civilians. In addition, World Vision money went to fund Hamas’ rocket buildup and the construction of military posts.

On June 15, 2016 the Shin Bet arrested El Halabi at the Erez border crossing, charging him with serving six years as an agent of Hamas’ military wing, Izzadin al-Qassam Brigades.  According to the Shin Bet, El Halabi, a resident of Jabalia (in the Gaza Strip), was tasked with infiltrating World Vision, a U.S. based Christian aid group, and covertly funneling $7.2 million a year in aid money to Hamas.  Of that sum $1.5 million a year went to the Izzadin al-Qassam Brigades.  Simultaneously, Halabi also monetarily supported and cooperated with organizations supporting the BDS movement.

Additionally, Halabi admitted that the humanitarian aid money, about $4 million a year, was used to build tunnels and for purchasing arms.  He told his interrogators that food stores for the needy Gazans and funds to support children were also transferred to Hamas. To cover his schemes, Halabi set up fictitious humanitarian projects, and fictitious agricultural associations.  Hamas operatives were registered as workers in non-existent projects.  Halabi used invoices for such projects and passed the cash to Hamas.  Shin Bet investigators also alleged that Halabi initiated a project that involved building greenhouses that were actually used to mask tunnel building activities.

El Halabi also used $80,000 in British aid to pay salaries to Hamas operatives, and give bonuses to terrorists who fought against Israel during Operation Protective Edge in 2014. And, as already mentioned, funds were used to build Hamas military bases, including one code-named “Palestine” that was built in 2015, using British money.

Luke Akehurst, who is campaigning for membership in Britain’s Labor party National Executive Committee, had this to say about British funds going to Hamas. “Kind-hearted Brits have given tens of thousands of pounds to a Christian charity to help needy children in Gaza, only to find that they were duped and their money stolen and diverted to fund Hamas’s terrorist activities.  It’s outrageous that instead of helping Gazan children to be fed and clothed, Hamas prefers to build terrorist infrastructure, dig attack tunnels into Israel, pay their terrorist fighters, and buy missiles that will be used against Israeli civilians.”

According to Ynet-News (August 4, 2016) Israeli Legal Center Shurat HaDin has warned that “For the past four years that funds provided to Gaza by Christian mega charity World Vision, were being utilized for terrorism.”  In 2012, the Tel Aviv based Shurat HaDin notified both the Australian government and World Vision that their aid money was being transferred to front charities of Palestinian terror groups in Gaza.  The Australian government and World Vision ignored the warning at the time. The Australian government, in the meantime, has announced that it is suspending aid money to World Vision pending the conclusion of the investigation into the transfer of funds from humanitarian to military purposes.

Last Thursday, Israel Defense Forces General Yoav (Poli) Mordechai, Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), met with the World Vision top leadership and presented the findings and confessions of Mohammad El Halabi’s interrogation, which involved his exploitation of the organization’s funds that went to benefit Hamas’s military wing.  The World Vision representatives said that they renounce any support, direct or indirect, to Hamas, and intend to cooperate transparently and in coordination with COGAT, as required.

World Vision President and CEO Keith Jenkins announced that his charity is investigating the Israeli allegations, and carrying out “a full review, including an externally conducted forensic audit.” Jenkins explained that “Last year, our work in Jerusalem, West Bank, and Gaza directly benefitted more than 92,000 children; nearly 40,000 of these were in Gaza. These projects focus on children’s psychological needs as well as providing medical and other supplies to hospitals, food relief, and re-establishing agricultural livelihood. These projects have been visited and reviewed by officials from the German and Australian governments, by international donors, and our staff and leaders from other countries.”

One wonders about World Vision and Mr. Jenkins personal credibility when it has been clearly established that the Hamas regime in Gaza has used women and children as human shields during recent Gaza wars.  Moreover, the World Vision has obviously ignored the hate-filled incitement in the educational system employed by the Palestinians in Gaza that poisons children’s minds with intolerance and hate toward Israelis and Jews.  If Hamas can abuse their own children, it stands to reason that Hamas’ operatives, such as El Halabi, would also abuse the trust of a Christian evangelical group, by diverting humanitarian aid for terrorist uses.

One has to conclude in the case of El Halabi that it was either Hamas cleverly exploiting World Vision or perhaps World Vision knowingly and deliberately allowing its donors to be exploited.  On its website, World Vision declares that it is “an organization you can trust.”  How then, can one trust an organization that looked the other way when its employees embezzled millions of dollars from western donors over a period of years? On the same website World Vision promotes its “Child Protection.” If indeed, World Vision cared so much for children, why hasn’t it condemned Hamas’s use of children as human shields? Or it’s placing of rocket launchers in hospitals and schools, thus endangering Palestinian children? And one should ask whether Jewish children in Israel do not deserve the same protection as Arab Muslim children in Gaza? The rocket launchers used by Hamas in schools and hospitals target Israeli schools and kindergardens with the intent to kill children.

Funding Islamic terrorists directly or indirectly to improve their potential to kill Jews is not exactly Christian charity.  Twentieth Century philosopher Karl Popper, in his book An Open Society and its Enemies wrote: “Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them…We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant.”  World Vision funding and defense of its intolerant and irrational Hamas operatives is destructive to tolerant societies and tolerance itself.

Joseph Puder


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