Israel is intensifying its assault on humanitarian aid efforts in the besieged Gaza Strip, with accusations against officials from two more international agencies.
Meanwhile, the global Christian charity World Vision has rebutted Israeli claims that its Gaza director could have diverted tens of millions of dollars to the Palestinian resistance organization Hamas.
Israel detained Mohammad El Halabi in June, interrogated him for more than 50 days and then charged him with diverting up to $50 million to the military wing of Hamas.
There are also new indications that Israel’s Shin Bet secret police tortured Halabi to extract the confessions it is relying on.
On Monday, Kevin Jenkins, president and CEO of World Vision International, said his organization is “seeking to understand the truth behind the allegations laid against Mohammad El Halabi,” and had suspended operations in Gaza pending investigations.
Jenkins added that “we still have not seen any of the evidence.”
“World Vision’s cumulative operating budget in Gaza for the past ten years was approximately $22.5 million, which makes the alleged amount of up to $50 million being diverted hard to reconcile,” Jenkins said. He also noted Halabi’s signing authority to spend funds was limited to to just $15,000.
“He was afraid they would kill him”
Faced with these figures – which severely undermine the credibility of the Israeli accusations – an Israeli government official told Australia’s ABC network that the numbers were irrelevant.
“It’s like when you catch a serial killer, the question of whether he killed 50 people or 25 people is not really relevant is it?” Israeli foreign ministry spokesperson Emmanuel Nahshon said.
This kind of reckless statement is adding to concerns among observers.
“That’s an absolutely ridiculous statement from Emmanuel Nahshon,” Jacob Burns, a researcher at Amnesty International, tweeted. “Serious charges require serious (and fair) trial.”
The Electronic Intifada