Sydney- The Australian government says it has found no evidence that any of its donations to the Christian charity World Vision had been siphoned to Hamas movement.
Israel’s internal security service Shin Bet charged the global aid agency’s Gaza manager Mohammed el-Halabi in August last year with diverting millions of dollars to Hamas to help build tunnels and purchase weapons.
The Shin Bet alleged el-Halabi created fictitious humanitarian projects to get the funds to Hamas.
Australia and Germany suspended funding in August after the Israeli accusations emerged.
El-Halabi has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said Thursday that its World Vision funding in Gaza would remain suspended while Israeli charges against 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.
World Vision welcomed Australia’s findings, adding that its own ongoing audit had not yet raised concerns about how money was spent.
World Vision’s work in Gaza has been suspended pending the outcome of that audit.
“We remain deeply concerned with this situation, and are saddened by the impact on Gaza’s children and their families,” a World Vision statement said.