Just over a month ago a senior staff member, Mohammad El Halabi, of the huge international charity “World Vision” was arrested crossing between Israel and Gaza. He was held under Israel’s “administrative detention” laws which so called human rights organisations frequently complain about. At the time his organisation wrote this about him:
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.
Today the details of his arrest were cleared for publication:
The World Vision organization, which operates in 100 countries and employs 46,000 people, fell victim to a complex, pre-planned Hamas takeover scheme, a senior Shin Bet source said, adding that Hamas’s military wing stole 7.2 million dollars a year from the budget, aimed at food, humanitarian assistance, and aid programs for disabled children, and channeling the funds to weapons acquisitions, tunnel building, and other preparations for war with Israel.
The source named Gazan civil engineer Muhammad Halabi, who has been heading World Vision’s Gaza branch, as the operative who infiltrated the organization in 2005, rising through its ranks to become head of the branch in 2010.
World Vision has had anti-Israel sympathies for years, that is no secret.
In a seemingly bizarre coincidence this week New York Times reporter, Diaa Hadid, wrote a soft human interest story about an Australian policeman who asked her to see if she could find the child he had “sponsored” through World Vision sending thousands of dollars over many years:
I had come to Husan to find Othman after a chance meeting with an Australian police officer months before. I was lost in Sydney’s airport, and he helped me find the departure gate. On the way, I mentioned my work as a journalist in the Middle East, and the officer — who is 44 and spoke on the condition that he be identified only by his first name, Brendan, because of his work — said he had been interested in the Palestinian cause since he was a teenager.
Brendan told me that in 2003 he had signed up to “sponsor” Othman through World Vision, a Christian charity whose website highlights faces and biographies of children from impoverished places around the world, saying that $39 a month can “change a child’s world for good.”
Over the next five years, Brendan said, he sent at least $1,100, along with Christmas and Easter cards, photographs and letters for Othman. He never got any response from the boy, and always wondered what had become of him. He did not know Othman’s last name, but remembered that he was from Husan, a village of about 7,000.
The NYT piece makes no mention of the detention of Mohammad El Halabi even though it was well known when she wrote this. I wonder if she’s going to ask “Brendan” the Australian policeman for a comment knowing that some part of his $1,100 helped finance Hamas.
The fact remains: World Vision collected from their supporters millions to supposedly help the Palestinians but it went to fund terror attacks on Israelis. Neither their central systems or their auditors (KPMG in the USA) noticed. For years. I doubt this is the only such misuse of funds we’ll find now that Israel seems to be taking a harder look at the NGOs and charities that operate here. The foreign funding bill can’t come soon enough.