Israel charges Gaza World Vision head with diverting `millions to Hamas`

Israel on Thursday charged the Gaza head of a major international NGO with diverting millions of dollars in foreign funding to Hamas and its military wing.

Ashkelon: Israel on Thursday charged the Gaza head of a major international NGO with diverting millions of dollars in foreign funding to Hamas and its military wing.

The Shin Bet internal 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 Israel.

Mohammed Halabi was recruited by Hamas to infiltrate the aid organisation more than a decade ago, rising to become the head of World Vision`s Gaza operation.

He was arrested in June and indicted Thursday on a number of charges, including funding terror.

Shin Bet said there was no evidence that World Vision`s main office was aware of Halabi`s actions.

Since Halabi took over operations in 2010, roughly 60 percent of World Vision`s annual budget in Gaza was diverted to Hamas, including its military wing the Ezzedine al-Qassam brigades, Shin Bet said.

This equated to $7.2 million, of which $1.2 million was handed over in cash.

World Vision, which employs tens of thousands globally, refused to comment on the allegations, saying they would release a statement.

Since 2008 Israel has fought three wars in Gaza with Hamas, which is considered a terrorist organisation by Israel, the United States and the European Union.

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