World Vision denies Israeli allegations against its Gaza director
International relief charity World Vision said it was "shocked" by Israeli allegations that the head of its Gaza office diverted millions of dollars of foreign aid to Hamas.
"Based on the information available to us at this time, we have no reason to believe that the allegations are true," a World Vision statement said on Thursday.
The charity said that on June 15 its Gaza operations director Mohammad El Halabi "was arrested on his way home from routine meetings."
On August 4, "after 50 days in Israeli state detention, Mohammad was charged with providing support to Hamas," it added.
"World Vision programmes in Gaza have been subject to regular internal and independent audits, independent evaluations, and a broad range of internal controls aimed at ensuring that assets reach their intended beneficiaries and are used in compliance with applicable laws and donor requirements."
Founded in 1950, World Vision has worked with Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip since 1975.
The charity has recently carried out extensive work in Gaza, including rehabilitating large tracts of agricultural land, building greenhouses, irrigation and water wells.
It has also provided equipment to Gazan fishermen whose livelihoods have been severely disrupted by Israeli measures.
Israel's internal security agency has accused Halabi of diverting $7.2 million from the charity's budget each year since 2010 to Hamas.
The charge sheet said Hamas recruited him to infiltrate World Vision more than a decade ago, and that he rose to become the head of the US-based Christian aid organisation's Gaza operation.
Halabi's attorney Muhammad Mahmoud told Isreal's Haaretz newspaper that his client denies any ties to Hamas and that the fact the investigation took more than 50 days indicates a "problem" with the evidence.