Monitoring Which NGOs Get Our Money, and How They Spend It
In light of recent revelations that UN money for “humanitarian aid” has instead been used to fund Hamas’ terrorist and military efforts, NGO Monitor president Gerald Steinberg has called for new efforts to ensure that funds are no longer misappropriated.
According to the Israeli government, Mohammed El-Halabi, director of the Gaza branch of the international humanitarian aid group World Vision, funneled money to Hamas’ military efforts for 10 years. Of the money allocated to the Gaza Strip since 2005 by World Vision, 60 percent of the annual budget was diverted to Hamas, totaling $7.2 million per year. Of the money that was intended to go towards building civilian projects and for the needy, $1.5 million per year was given in cash to Hamas combat units and $4 million to build terror tunnels. In a second case, Waheed Borsh, a UN Development Program (UNDP) engineer, was indicted for building a Hamas military jetty in the northern Gaza strip utilizing UNDP materials.
The misappropriation of funds is especially concerning to Israel, as the aid is often used to carry out attacks on civilian communities in Israel. The lack of due diligence is also disturbing to Western governments that provide humanitarian aid to Gaza. “We don’t want our money spent on that kind of thing,” said Australian Parliamentarian Michael Danby, whose government contributed significant amounts to World Vision before the allegations surfaced. “I bet my bottom dollar that this is a widely held view not just in Australia, but in Germany, Canada, and the United States,” he added in a Jerusalem press conference with NGO Monitor.
Danby called the alleged misappropriation of Australian money being spent on terror tunnels in Israel “beyond the pale” and suggested in a letter to the head of World Vision in Australia that the group conduct thorough interviews in the Gaza Strip as a part of the forensic audit and civic court trial that began this week.
At NGO Monitor, Steinberg has bemoaned the lack of proper humanitarian aid accounting — and their lack of any concern for Hamas’ terrorist activity and desire to destroy Israel. Although Israeli human rights lawyer Michael Sfard and his ilk have suggested that “even the best organized operations have no choice but to operate in a grey zone in Gaza,” Steinberg asserts that there are indeed choices, and that Gaza is not a grey zone but “an area controlled by Hamas” — and that this must be taken into account when any donor allocates funds.
He also argues that if money is allocated to Gaza, groups must track where it goes to ensure it doesn’t fund terror. “There’s a lot of experience with this outside the NGO community. Why these best practices are not adopted by the NGOs is more of a political and ideological question than a financial question,” Steinberg commented. “If I were weighing where I would give my $100, or $1 million of tax funds, I’m going to make sure that my money actually goes to the people who are supposed to get it,” he concluded.
Eliana Rudee is a fellow with the Haym Salomon Center and the author of the “Israel Girl” column for JNS.org. Her bylines have been featured in USA Today, Forbes, and The Hill. Follow her column on JNS.org.