(JNS.org) The former head of the global Christian charity World Vision in the Gaza Strip, Mohammed al-Halabi, pleaded not guilty in an Israeli court Thursday on charges that he funneled millions of dollars in charity money to the Palestinian terror group Hamas.
“Up until now we have seen no credible evidence to support those charges,” said Conny Lenneberg, World Vision's regional leader in the Middle East, Australia’s ABC News reported.
“So we stand in solidarity with Mohammed while we are calling for an open trial to test the veracity of these accusations,” Lenneberg added.
Israel has accused Halabi of siphoning millions of dollars from World Vision to Gaza-ruling Hamas. Former Israeli Foreign Ministry Director-General Dore Gold estimated that Halabi “managed to transfer in the decade of his work at World Vision...tens of millions of dollars.”
After the allegations against Halabi were revealed, Australia announced it would cut funding to the charity group’s branch in that country. World Vision also cut jobs and projects in Gaza following Halabi’s arrest.
In a statement Thursday, World Vision said it had been conducting "a thorough and wide-ranging" review of its operations in Gaza, with a "forensic audit" currently being conducted by a "leading global accounting firm," according to ABC News.