World Vision Lays Off Employees, Shuts Down Projects In Gaza After Head Is Indicted by Israel for Aiding Hamas

Palestinian Mohammad El Halabi (C), a manager of operations in the Gaza Strip for U.S.-based Christian charity World Vision, accused by Israel of funnelling millions of dollars in aid money to Hamas in Gaza, a charge denied by the Islamist militant group, is seen before a hearing at the Beersheba district court in southern Israel August 4, 2016. REUTERS/Dudu Grunshpan
Palestinian Mohammad El Halabi (C), a manager of operations in the Gaza Strip for U.S.-based Christian charity World Vision, accused by Israel of funnelling millions of dollars in aid money to Hamas in Gaza, a charge denied by the Islamist militant group, is seen before a hearing at the Beersheba district court in southern Israel August 4, 2016. REUTERS/Dudu Grunshpan
World Vision International shuts down its Gaza project and lays off 120 Gaza employees, at least temporarily, after project head indictment shows millions redirected to Hamas.

The World Vision international humanitarian non-governmental organization (NGO) has laid off 120 Gaza employees and cancelled its project in the region after the head of its Gaza office was indicted by Israel for redirecting project funds into the coffers of the military wing of the Hamas terrorist organization.

The contracts of the NGO’s Gaza employees were cancelled, according to an employee quoted over the weekend by UK-based newspaper The Guardian, in a report confirmed by World Vision. The NGO had rushed to cancel the project just days after Mohammed El-Halabi was indicted.

World Vision’s eastern Jerusalem office had released a statement on Friday, July 29, passionately defending El-Halabi as 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.”

Less than two weeks later, however, “They informed 120 employees from World Vision in Gaza they were officially cancelling their contracts and stopping all their projects in the enclave,” the employee said. “The head of the NGO in Palestine and a number of foreign staff met on August 9 with Palestinian employees in the Gaza office and gave them documents to sign, which they did.” The employee added that the NGO had promised to take the staff back ‘once the crisis was resolved.’

On August 4, after the indictment, the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) intelligence service announced World Vision’s Gaza operations manager Mohammed El-Halabi had funneled 60 percent of the organization’s budget to the military wing of Hamas.

El-Halabi was arrested on June 15, 20165 at the Erez crossing between Israel and Gaza. He was indicted in Israel on August 4, 2016 on charges of infiltrating the charity on behalf of Hamas, and having redirected some $43 million of World Vision funds to the military wing of the terror organization over a six-year period.

According to the indictment and subsequent media reports, the funds were instead used to build Hamas terrorist tunnels and military installations, as well as for other terrorist activities.

World Vision International (WVI) argued the Israeli-quoted figure was inaccurate, saying the budget for Gaza operations was smaller than the amount claimed by the Shin Bet.

But according to watchdog organization NGO Monitor, it’s not that simple and in fact, the World Vision International (WVI) umbrella organization also has some structural difficulties to work out.

There is the Israeli World Vision division, founded in 1988, and with $16.3 million in revenue in 2014, received solely from local donations and from WVI.

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SOURCE: Jewish Press
Hana Levi Julian