search

World Vision fires 120 in Gaza as Israel freezes funds over Hamas accusations

Charity says it can no longer pay salaries; director in Strip is charged with siphoning millions to terror group

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 Hamas 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 Hamas terrorist organization. (Screen capture: World Vision)

An international Christian charity operating in the Gaza Strip recently fired some 120 contractors in the coastal enclave, saying Israel froze its bank accounts following allegations that the NGO’s Gaza director funneled millions of dollars to the Hamas terror group.

According to Reuters, World Vision wrote to its contractors in the Strip, saying that due to the freeze on bank accounts the organization could no longer pay its contract workers.

“Because of the crisis, we have frozen all our activities in Gaza. Our bank accounts in Jerusalem were frozen by the [Israeli] authorities, which also prevented us from making any transfers to Gaza,” Reuters quoted the letter as saying.

“Because of these conditions that are beyond the control of World Vision, we will not be able to keep your job at the present stage because we will not be able to transfer any salaries or any other payments,” the letter said.

Palestinian children hold posters of Muhammad Halabi, left, the Gaza director of World Vision, a major US-based Christian NGO, during a protest to support him at Rafah town in the southern Gaza Strip August 29, 2016. (AFP/SAID KHATIB)
Palestinian children hold posters of Muhammad e-Halabi, left, the Gaza director of World Vision, a major US-based Christian NGO, during a protest to support him at Rafah town in the southern Gaza Strip August 29, 2016. (AFP/Said Khatib)

According to Reuters, the letter informed contractors that the organization was looking for ways to pay them all amounts owed to them and “we hope this happens in the near future.”

The terminated contractors were asked by the NGO to hand over items that they had received from the organization, including cellular phones, worker IDs and computers.

In August, an Israeli court charged Halabi with having channeled millions of dollars in foreign aid to Hamas and its armed wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades. Halabi was arrested in June and later indicted on a number of charges, including funding terror. The charge sheet said he was recruited by Hamas to infiltrate the aid organization more than a decade ago, rising to become the head of World Vision’s Gaza operation.

World Vision International's President & CEO, Kevin Jenkins. (VisionFund/YouTube)
World Vision International’s president and CEO, Kevin Jenkins. (VisionFund/YouTube)

The Shin Bet security service said $7.2 million (6.5 million euros) given to World Vision had been diverted to Hamas each year, with some of it funding the Gaza Strip rulers’ military campaign against the Jewish state. World Vision said it had “no reason to believe” the allegations against Halabi.

The charity has headquarters in Washington State and the United Kingdom, and 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.

The governments of Britain, Germany and Australia suspended their donations to the charity over the allegations by Israel.

read more:
comments
Never miss breaking news on Israel
Get notifications to stay updated
You're subscribed