Australia finds no evidence its World Vision funds went to Hamas

(JTA) — An Australian government investigation found no evidence that funds it gave to the US-based Christian charity World Vision International were diverted to Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

The Australian government suspended some funding to World Vision last year after Israeli allegations that a senior official in the Gaza Strip, Mohammed el-Halabi, had diverted millions of dollars in aid to the Hamas terrorist group.

The Australian government had given World Vision some $5 million over three years intended for projects in Gaza.

World Vision said at the time of the accusations that they were unfounded.

Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade announced on Tuesday that: “The review uncovered nothing to suggest any diversion of government funds.”

World Vision also is conducting an independent review of its operations to determine whether any siphoning of funds occurred.

The Australian funds will remain frozen until the completion of the World Vision review and Halabi’s trial in Israel, according to the department.

Halabi’s trial is ongoing. He reportedly has rejected a plea deal and has pleaded not guilty. He also has accused Israeli authorities of torturing him during interrogation.

According to the Shin Bet, Israel’s security agency, during interrogations following his arrest on June 15, 2016, el-Halabi revealed that he has been a Hamas member since his youth and had undergone organizational and military training in the early 2000s.

Shortly after being employed by World Vision, he began to use his position to help the Islamist terrorist organization, primarily by diverting funds meant as aid to strengthen Hamas’ terrorist arm, Shin Bet said.

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