Israel denies secrecy on Gaza aid workers suspected of helping Hamas
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Israel denies secrecy on Gaza aid workers suspected of helping Hamas

Foreign Ministry rejects claim that ‘key allies’ were kept in the dark on allegations against World Vision, UN staffers

Muhammad el-Halabi, a manager of the World Vision charity's operations in the Gaza Strip, was indicted on August 4, 2016, for diverting the charity's funds to the terrorist organization. (Screen capture: World Vision)
Muhammad el-Halabi, a manager of the World Vision charity's operations in the Gaza Strip, was indicted on August 4, 2016, for diverting the charity's funds to the terrorist organization. (Screen capture: World Vision)

Israel on Friday rejected claims that it did not update Western donor states on the arrests of an aid worker in Gaza who was allegedly involved in the transfer of millions of dollars to the Hamas terror group and of a UN engineer facing similar allegations.

According to Haaretz newspaper, Israel received complaints from “key allies” regarding the detention of senior World Vision employee Mohammed el-Halabi, who has been charged for funneling tens of millions of dollars of the charity’s funds to Hamas for terror purposes. World Vision, an international Christian aid group with headquarters in Washington State and the United Kingdom, works in nearly 100 countries. With a budget of approximately $2.6 billion and nearly 50,000 employees, it is one of the largest US-based relief organizations and has operated in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza since the 1970s.

But the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem denied that it failed to update donor nations on the suspicions against el-Halabi, or those against Waheed Abd Allah Bossh, an engineer in the UN’s Development Program, who was arrested by the Shin Bet security service in July for allegedly funneling resources to the terrorist group.

“The claim that Israel had not updated the donor countries to World Vision and UNDP regarding the background of the arrest of the suspects is incorrect,” said the Foreign Ministry in a statement.

Waheed Abd Allah Bossh, an engineer with the UN's Development Program, accused of using his position to aid the Hamas terrorist organization, on August 9, 2016. (Shin Bet)
Waheed Abd Allah Bossh, an engineer with the UN’s Development Program, accused of using his position to aid the Hamas terrorist organization, on August 9, 2016. (Shin Bet)

“Since the indictments against UNDP and World Vision personnel on their involvement in Hamas terror activities, relevant information has been conveyed, through various channels, to the countries involved in the humanitarian activity,” it added. “The Foreign Ministry will continue coordinating the transfer of information.”

Haaretz quoted unnamed Western diplomats as saying that Israel’s actions led to the sense that the government wanted to generate a “public diplomacy buzz,” as opposed to seeking a solution to the claims.

“The Israelis’ priorities in this affair are very strange,” the paper quoted one unnamed diplomat as saying. “Israel’s conduct is very disappointing.”

Israel's Ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, greets UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on his arrival in Israel, June 27, 2016 (Avi Davidi)
Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, greets UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on his arrival in Israel, June 27, 2016 (Avi Davidi)

The UN legal department has “demanded” that Israel release Bossh, and asserted that he should enjoy diplomatic immunity, Israel’s ambassador to the UN Danny Danon said Thursday.

Danon and Israel’s Foreign Ministry refused the request, calling the UN’s claims that the man has immunity from arrest “unfounded.”

“It is inconceivable that a man aiding a terrorist organization will enjoy UN immunity,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement Thursday.

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