World Vision Canada has no sponsored communities in the Gaza area. Charity Intelligence does not see Canadian donations involved in Israeli security’s recent allegations of World Vision funds diverted to Hamas.

To read Charity Intelligence's donor brief on World Vision Canada's programs in Palestinian Territories (163 kb)

Background: The international press extensively reported on allegations that World Vision donations for Gaza projects financed Hamas. Israeli security arrested Mohammed El Halabi on June 15, 2016 and charged him on August 4, 2016 for diverting “tens of millions” to Hamas terrorist group. According to reports of these charges, World Vision’s Gaza projects receive US$11.7 million a year of which 60% (US$7 million) was diverted to Hamas. Israel’s Shin Bet internal security service alleges Halabi diverted World Vision donations to families of Hamas militants with injured children, Hamas militants falsely registered as World Vision staff and were paid salaries, project costs in Gaza were inflated with the extra money going to fund Hamas, and fictitious names were used with $1.5 million in donations given out to Hamas members. Shin Bet alleges Halabi transferred to Hamas materials such as steel, digging equipment and pipes that were meant for World Vision’s farming projects. One military base costing $800,000 was built in 2015 entirely from British donations.

Given that World Vision International's entire spending in Gaza over the last 10 years is US$22.2 million, it is difficult to reconcile these allegations. Furthermore Halabi has only been Gaza manager since October 2014. Before then, as with all World Vision project staff, individual spending authority is maxed at US$15,000. World Vision International's Gaza operations were recently extensively and independently audited in 2015 with the highest praise for its humanitarian work in Gaza.

This is not the first time Israel has accused humanitarian charities working in the West Bank and Gaza of collaborating with terrorists. Israel has made similar allegations about Red Cross/Red Crescent, the UN’s Relief and Work Agency for Palestinian Refugees (the Canadian government stopped funding in 2010), Doctors Without Borders, Islamic Relief and now World Vision. These charities vehemently deny these allegations and maintain their actions are neutral.

“no evidence whatsoever of [UNWRA]” financing terrorism. “This is a false allegation which we reject. We take efforts to safeguard our neutrality which we do.”. Chris Gunness, spokesman for UNRWA

Without fair legal process, it is sad to see the knee jerk reaction of countries and donors stopping funds. World Vision Germany and the Australian government have suspended aid to World Vision’s projects in the Palestinian territories.

The political conflict of the Middle East raises the classic Humanitarian Dilemma. The UNRWA for Palestinian Refugees with humanitarian charities provide a basic social safety net to, some say, keep the suffering at an acceptable level. While helping those caught in a war zone, does international aid subsidize the costs and tactics of conflict? Humanitarian charities struggle with the dilemma; it’s an impossible balance between work that is complicit with Israel’s occupation and meeting the humanitarian needs of Palestinians trapped in this endless war.

 “The situation in Gaza today lays bare the excruciating limits of humanitarian action in the face of occupation.”  Jason Cone, The Humanitarian’s Dilemma, Foreign Policy

Reading through on-line comments, these facts may help inform Canadian donors:

  • World Vision Canada funds 6 Palestinian communities all in the West Bank and none in Gaza. World Vision Canada’s 6 West Bank sponsorships communities are in Nablus (3), Hebron (2), and West Jenin – see map. These Palestinian development projects are all on-going with no new sponsorship opportunities posted at this time on World Vision Canada’s website. World Vision Canada typically spends 15 years in each community.
  • Charity Intelligence rates World Vision Canada a 4-star charity with excellent donor accountability, full financial disclosure, a need for funding and overhead costs within a reasonable range. Charity Intelligence report on World Vision Canada updated July 29, 2016
  • World Vision Canada’s fundraising costs are 23.2% of donations and administrative costs are 5.9% of total revenues. For every dollar Canadians donate, 70.9 cents goes to World Vision Canada’s programs. This is within Charity Intelligence’s reasonable range for overhead costs.
  • World Vision Canada is Canada’s largest donor-funded charity with F2015 donations of $262.7 million. In addition, World Vision Canada received $37.4 million in federal government funding.World Vision Canada spent $345.7 million on its international programs in F2015.
  • World Vision adopts a community sponsorship approach. While donors give $39 a month to “sponsor a child”, these donations go to fund the community in which the child lives. World Vision Canada funds 255 communities in 48 developing countries.

August 8, 2016

Writen by Kate Bahen, Charity Intelligence


World Vision Canada, “Where we work: Jerusalem/West Bank/Gaza”

World Vision – Jerusalem, West Bank, Gaza “Statement on World Vision’s staff Arrest”, August 4, 2016

Al Athar Global Consulting “DEC Gaza Program: Gaza Relief Response and Early Recovery 2014 (Phase 1 and 2): Final Evaluation Report” January 2016

Shawn McCarthy, “Ottawa eyes fresh funding for UN group with alleged ties to Hamas”, The Globe and Mail, February 14, 2016.

Jason Cone, The Humanitarian’s Dilemma, Foreign Policy July 15, 2015

Tia Goldenberg and Daniella Cheslow, “Israel accuses Gaza manager of World Vision of funding Hamas” The Washington Post, August 4, 2016 also by Associated Press writer Wafa Shurafa in Gaza City, Associated Press.

Ruth Eglash and Hazem Balousha, “Gaza’s head of World Vision hired by Hamas to infiltrate the charity, funnelled $9.5 million a year to Hamas, Israel’s domestic security agency says.”, The Washington Post reported in National Post, August 5, 2016.

Nick Schifrin and Merrit Kennedy, “Israel Accuses World Vision Employee of Embezzling Millions for Hamas”, National Public Radio, August 5, 2016.

World Vision Gaza, World Vision Management Response to the DEC Gaza Evaluation, April 8, 2016

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