Investigation: World Vision did not channel funds to Hamas
Australia found no evidence that any of its donations to the Christian charity World Vision had been siphoned to Hamas, the government said on Thursday.
Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade [DFAT] said its World Vision funding in Gaza will however remain suspended while Israeli charges against the global aid agency's Gaza manager Mohammed el-Halabi remain unresolved.
"DFAT has reviewed the management of its funding to World Vision in the Palestinian Territories. The review uncovered nothing to suggest any diversion of government funds." the department said in a statement.
"Australia's funding to World Vision in the Palestinian Territories remains suspended until we have considered the outcomes of the court case against Mr. el-Halabi and reviews being undertaken by World Vision Australia and World Vision International into this issue," it added.
Australia and Germany suspended funding in August after Israeli authorities charged el-Halabi with diverting around 50 million US dollars to Hamas to help build tunnels and purchase weapons.
Israel's internal security service Shin Bet alleged el-Halabi created fictitious humanitarian projects to get the funds to Hamas.
The Shin Bet alleged he underwent Hamas training in the early 2000s and was "planted" by the group at World Vision in 2005, where he climbed the ranks to become director of the Gaza branch.
Israel's Justice Ministry declined to comment on el-Halabi's case because his trial was ongoing.
More than two-thirds of Gaza's two million people depend on some form of foreign aid, with the Palestinian enclave hit by three wars against Israel since 2008 and under an Israeli blockade for a decade.
UN officials have called for the blockade to be lifted, citing deteriorating humanitarian conditions.
Agencies contributed to this report.