British taxpayers let down by gross abuses of Palestinian aid

The allegation that the director of an internationally respected and funded NGO has been brazenly siphoning international aid money to the terror activities of Hamas is chilling.
The Hamas-trained director of the Gaza branch of World Vision, Mohammed el-Halabi, has allegedly diverted up to $50 million to the terror organisation over a period of years. Hamas has reportedly been receiving as much as 60% of the NGOs annual budget through the creation of fictitious humanitarian projects.
The alleged misappropriation and abuse of international aid is the latest demonstration of Hamas’s contempt of its own people. Instead of building schools and hospitals, Hamas continues to build terror tunnels and rearms in preparation for another attack on Israel.
Worryingly, the UK – via the Department for International Development – reportedly gave £2 million to groups in Gaza in 2014, including World Vision, when they matched charitable contributions pound for pound made by well-meaning Brits to a Disaster Emergency Committee appeal. The Department has conceded that it cannot guarantee that British taxpayers money has not been given to Hamas. There will be some very red faces on Whitehall in the wake of these reports.
This tragic story is symptomatic of the wider abuse of aid money.
CFI has campaigned to raise awareness of these issues for years, from the PA’s payment of salaries to convicted terrorists to NGOs that celebrate terrorism.
DfID money goes to some important projects in the Palestinian Territories. However, not all projects are created equal.
Indeed, CFI recently unearthed evidence of UK-funded Palestinian NGOs endorsing violence and praising so-called ‘martyrs’.
Ibda’a Cultural Center, for example, received £5,602 from the UK in the last financial year. A cursory glance at their Facebook page revealed they were proudly hosting a photo exhibition in the West Bank of Palestinian terrorists, including some of those behind deadly attacks in the last year.
Somewhere along the line, the scrutinisation process is failing and due diligence measures are falling below the necessary standards.
It’s hardly a secret that corruption is rife in the Palestinian Territories. Hamas has for years appropriated construction materials intended for civilian purposes to construct tunnels deep into Israeli communities with the express intention of murder and terror.
Polling shows that increasing numbers of West Bank Palestinians dislike the Palestinian Authority as a result of perceived corruption. This distrust was encapsulated by the strong reaction meted to the extravagant new Presidential Palace complex for Mahmoud Abbas.
Faced with such gross abuses, we appeal to new Secretary of State, Priti Patel, to ensure that DfID exercises far stricter oversight of aid given to Palestinian organisations, to ensure it reaches projects that work for peace rather than hate. It is encouraging that Priti is showing an eagerness to tackle these issues.
It is high time DfID reconsiders it’s current aid policy to the Palestinian Territories to ensure the UK supports peaceful coexistence projects, such as the extraordinary Save A Child’s Heart. As it stands, a mere 0.2% of the £72 million that the UK gives per annum is allocated to such projects. Priti has already pledged to look into this fantastic organisation and others.
Both the British taxpayer and Palestinian residents have been badly let down.
About the Author
Lord Eric Pickles is the former Communities Secretary, and ex-Parliamentary chair of Conservative Friends of Israel. He is the current Special Envoy for post-Holocaust issues and co-chair of the UK Holocaust Memorial Foundation's advisory board.
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