Much can be said about the terrorist organization, Hamas, yet the latest act highlights multiple levels of hate and manipulation. Let us have a clear vision.
World Vision is a major humanitarian organization, well respected, with a long tradition. It constituted a sound entity to channel the support of Western governments, the United Nations and private donations. These engaged parties felt reassured having World Vision channeling all their good faith efforts.
However, not everyone shared that same positive vision. Indeed, as early as 2005, a member of Hamas, Mohammed El-Halabi, joined the World Vision organization, and by 2010 had become its director in Gaza. Last week, it was revealed that El-Halabi diverted huge amounts of funds and other resources for the needy and gave them to Hamas’ military and terrorist operations.
For years, millions of dollars — about $7.2 million per year, the equivalent of 60 percent of World Vision resources allocated for the children and people in need in Gaza — were systematically diverted to the military arm of Hamas.
Never miss a local story.
The funds were used at the expense of development programs, and instead built military facilities, bought weapons, provided cash for their members to carry-out terrorism, and constructed tunnels of terror used to attack, not to smuggle.
Hamas’ nefarious goal demonstrates its insensitivity to the real needs of the residents of the Gaza Strip. Hamas does not care about the welfare or lives of the Palestinian people, instead takes advantage of them. Hamas cares only about carrying out an Islamic terrorist war against Israel.
Let us be clear and not allow our lenses to lose focus: Hamas is a radical Islamic terrorist organization that took control of the Gaza Strip through a bloody coup. It is in close collaboration with the terrorist infrastructure of Iran, as well as jihadist terrorist groups in Egypt and the Sinai Peninsula.
The military buildup funded by millions of good hearted people, organizations and governments of the world was filling up the coffers of terrorists who directly threaten the lives of Israeli citizens, including children in Southern Israel. This undermines the stability of the region and endangered Israeli and Palestinian civilians alike.
The actions of Hamas continue to erode the future of the Palestinian people. Those millions of funds originally earmarked for multiple projects to help civilians, were instead taken away and spent on war schemes. All those actions chip away the health, well-being, hope and confidence of the people. Hamas will try hard to again blur the lens — by covering up, blaming Israel and demonizing Israelis. They will tell more lies to the Palestinian people and the world.
It is also clear, that considering the security and sensitivity issues in the region, the behavior of World Vision, at the very least can be considered grossly negligent. Global aid organizations should focus their activities on providing support to those in need and not support terrorist organizations. But let us not single out World Vision, recently Israel arrested Waheed Borsch, a U.N. Development Program employee, for funneling resources to Hamas.
Israel expects the international community — both foreign governments and civil society — to act towards preventing Hamas from continuing to use humanitarian projects with terrorist purposes.
This new revelation of Hamas operations against charity organizations in the Gaza Strip shows once again that Hamas is not only the enemy of Israel, but also, and even more so, the enemy of its own people.
We hope the world will have a clear vision of the danger that Hamas presents to the stability and peace of the region. Let us hope and envision a better future for the Palestinian people.
Lior Haiat is consul-general of Israel to Florida and Puerto Rico.