Israeli security services have arrested a senior member of international charity World Vision on suspicion of helping fund Hamas, it emerged on Thursday.
The Shin Bet said it detained Mohammed Halabi, a manager at World Vision in Gaza, in June for transferring 7.2 million dollars a year from the international charity organization to the Gaza based terror organization.
Shin Bet said that Halabi used a “systematic and sophisticated mechanism” to channel cash to the Gaza terror movement, which included submitting inflated receipts and falsely listing Hamasoperatives as workers on World Vision projects.
It alleged that World Vision’s humanitarian aid to Gaza was mainly diverted to Hamas operatives and their families and that Halabi transferred up to $50 million to Hamas over the years, which it used to purchase weapons.
World Vision is an American NGO, one of the largest charitable and humanitarian aid organizations in the world, that operates in more than 100 countries. It was founded by American Baptist minister Robert Pierce in 1950. According to its website, it is a “Christian relief, development and advocacy organisation dedicated to working with children, families and communities to overcome poverty and injustice.”
Shin Bet said there was no evidence that World Vision’s main office was aware of Halabi’s actions.
According to the Shin Bet, Halabi took advantage of his position as head of the organization to divert funds and resources from the needy to benefit of Hamas’ terrorist and military activities.
Halabi, who hails from Jabalya in Gaza, was arrested at the Erez Crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip on 15 June where he was detained on suspicion of serious security offenses carried out for the terrorist arm of Hamas and of exploiting his visits to Israel for that purpose.
“During the investigation, Halabi revealed that he has been a Hamas member since his youth and had undergone organizational and military training in the early 2000s,” the Shin Bet said in a statement.
According to the Israeli security agency, Hamas dispatched El-Halabi in 2005 to infiltrate World Vision and shortly after being employed by World Vision, he started to use his position to benefit the Islamist terrorist organization, primarily by diverting funds meant as aid to strengthen Hamas’ terrorist arm.
Since Halabi took over operations in 2010, roughly 60 percent of World Vision’s annual budget in Gaza was diverted to Hamas, including its military wing the Ezzedine al-Qassam brigades, Shin Bet said. This equated to $7.2 million, of which $1.2 million was handed over in cash.
World Vision refused to comment on the allegations, saying they would release a statement. Halabi regularly transferred equipment to Hamas that he had ordered for World Vision, under the pretense that it was for agricultural aid, the Shin Bet said. Hamas used some of this equipment to help construct tunnels that could be used to attack Israel, according to the Shin Bet.
See Press Release from Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs