The news that the Israeli government charged Mohammed el-Halabi, the Gaza director of World Vision, a major international evangelical Christian aid organization, with funneling millions to fortify Hamas government’s terrorist capabilities has reportedly “shocked” the organization. But the reason for this “shock” is not the evidence of his diverting 60% of the charity’s Gaza budget to further Hamas terrorism. The organization was “shocked” because the Israelis, after years of complaining and warning, are bringing him to justice. World Vision did not even pretend to be embarrassed by el-Halabi’s use of $50 million not to help the needy in Gaza, but to pay Hamas members, buy weapons and transfer “building supplies intended to support farming projects… to Hamas for constructing tunnels and military installations.” Instead, World Vision’s German spokesperson protested the “huge gap” between “what we know” and the Israeli charges, while the Australian CEO declared he was “profoundly perplexed and mystified.”
Claims like this and outright denials of international aid diversion for Palestinian terrorist activities are nothing new.
Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood branch in Gaza, was established in December 1987, days into the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s (PLO) first Intifada against Israel. And as soon as the Internet was made available for public use in the early 1990s, the Palestinians began using it to portray the people they use as human shields throughout the territories and Gaza not as the casualties of its own murderous agenda, but as victims of Israeli retaliation. Like the Palestinian Authority (PA), Hamas realized that posting photos of wounded children and crying mothers has a considerable effect in the ‘hearts’ and ‘minds’ battle for gaining support from the international community. Indeed, the strategy of extracting maximum civilian casualties from among their constituents has always yielded larger funding.
In December 2003, for example, as Yasser Arafat’s second Intifada (28 September 2000 – 8 February 2005) against Israel was raging, an international donors’ conference in Rome awarded the Palestinian Authority with $1 billion, ignoring the PA’s funding of terrorist activities.
Evidence that Hamas suicide bombers were paid with EU aid money did not move an Austrian member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the European Parliament, Hannes Swoboda. He insisted in writing and while arguing against my testimony before the European Parliament on this issue that “No wrongdoing or misuse of funds by the Palestinian Authority, no instances of funds being used for terrorist activities instead of infrastructure development, have been proved. Only if the DNA of the suicide bombers will match the DNA of those who received euros will we accept it as evidence.”
Swoboda, apparently was among the first to identify Islamic “lone wolf” phenomenon, claiming that Palestinian suicide bombers “have been acting alone,” even while the evidence showed they were selected, trained and their families rewarded by Hamas and the PA.
Over the years, the mountains of evidence of misappropriated international aid to the Palestinians from the European Union (EU), the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), United States Agency for International Development (USAID), as well as a huge network of charities and non-governmental organizations, has sometimes caused a short pause in the flow of funds, but the money has never stopped coming.
In addition to World Vision’s funding, which the organization says it has halted pending its investigation of the evidence provided by the Israeli indictment of el-Halabi, the Hamas government receives funding from an array of sources, though lately, fewer are doing so publicly.
Directly, it receives contributions from the international Muslim community, international NGOs, such as the BDS groups, and online. A good example of indirect funding is the $50 million announced by the U.S. “to provide basic humanitarian assistance and create jobs. The money will be distributed by the U.S Agency for International Development in partnership with Catholic Relief Services.” At the same time, Sweden also announced an additional $8 million to UNRWA “for all Palestinian refugees.”
Hamas also receives aid through its own political adversary, the Palestinian Authority (PA), itself the recipient of international aid second in size only to Syria. (Palestinians are the recipients of highest per capita assistance in the world). Funding comes from numerous international bodies, including The European Commission (EC); UNRWA; the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund UNICEF; the United States Aid Agency (USAID), and the World Bank. These and others fund the PA to re-allocate funds to Hamas-ruled Gaza, as humanitarian aid, to create jobs, housing projects, and also in support of imaginary “good governance” programs since Hamas took over Gaza in 2007. While there are efforts to stop U.S. aid from reaching Hamas, according to April’s Congressional Research Service (CRS) report: “Since 2007, USAID could not “reasonably ensure” that its money would not wind up in terrorist hands.” Moreover, the report acknowledged that “UNRWA makes publicly available the names of all recipients of UNRWA contracts of an annual aggregate value of $100,000 or more.” This allows the recipients of $99,999 and less to support whichever terrorist activities called for.
Support of Palestinian terrorism under the guise of “Humanitarian aid” and “reconstructions” is unlikely to stop anytime soon. The announcement of Palestinian municipal elections in October has already triggered calls from different factions for increasing terrorist attacks. Decades of steady foreign funding assures the Palestinians that no matter what, the spigot of money will not be turned off.