In June 2016, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) arrested Mohammed El-Halabi, manager of Gaza operations for the international aid organization World Vision, and charged him with diverting $50 million to terrorist organizations for construction of tunnels and other terrorist activity According to the indictment against him, El-Halabi used fictitious humanitarian projects and agricultural associations to act as a cover for the hijacking of monies and materials to Hamas. On June 15, 2022, the Be’er Sheva District Court convicted El-Halabi for diverting aid money and resources from World Vision to Hamas.
|In their own words||“A Christian relief, development and advocacy organisation dedicated to working with children, families and communities to overcome poverty and injustice.”|
- In 2022, World Vision International’s total income was $3.3 billion; total expenses were $3.2 billion, of which $334 million was spent on “Middle East/Europe.”
- World Vision’s donors include: Australia, Canada (CIDA), United Kingdom (DFID), United States (USAID), Germany (German Humanitarian Assistance), and the European Union.
- Australia is a major funder of World Vision Australia. In 2021-2022, World Vision Australia received AUD 29.9 million from the Australian government (DFAT).(See below for more information on Australia’s funding to World Vision.)
- World Vision was receiving funds under Australia’s AMENCA-3 program until the arrest of its manager of operations in Gaza for diverting funds to Hamas.
- According to an October 2018 document published by the General Delegation of Palestine to Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific, “World Vision has still not resumed receiving development assistance from DFAT for its projects in the PTs (Palestinian Territories), undermining Australia’s goals of encouraging agricultural growth, particularly in the Gaza Strip where World Vision is the only NGO to operate under the AMENCA program.”
- In 2022, World Vision UK received £4.6 million from the United Kingdom (FCDO).
- Australia is a major funder of World Vision Australia. In 2021-2022, World Vision Australia received AUD 29.9 million from the Australian government (DFAT).(See below for more information on Australia’s funding to World Vision.)
- Donors to World Vision’s branch in the West Bank and Gaza (WV-JWG) include the European Union, Germany, UN OCHA, and Save the Children.
- In 2023, WV-JWG and BMZ (Germany) launched a three-year €1 million project “aimed at improving the mental health and well-being of children and families in areas B and C of the West Bank.”
- In 2023, WV-JWG received $521,821 from the European Union for “Safe Access to inclusive and dignified education in Areas B and C- West Bank.”
- In 2022, World Vision West Bank Gaza (WV-JWG) received $853,873 from Germany for “Building resilience and ensuring protective hygiene in WASH and DRR systems at schools’ level in Area ‘C’- West Bank.”
- According to its website, World Vision also “work[s] closely with various UN agencies including the World Food Program, UNHCR, the refugee agency and UNICEF on children’s issues.”
- World Vision was receiving funds under Australia’s AMENCA-3 program until the arrest of its manager of operations in Gaza for diverting funds to Hamas. (See below for more information.)
- World Vision solicits donations through its Child Sponsorship Program. According to an article in The New York Times entitled, “A World Vision Donor Sponsored a Boy. The Outcome Was a Mystery to Both,” this donation structure is misleading and ambiguous – despite the advertisement campaigns that lead donors to believe that they are funding one specific child and will thus develop a relationship with him/her, the funds are instead pooled and distributed to children in a specific region in need.
- Operates in approximately 100 countries worldwide throughout Asia, Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and Eastern Europe.
- Claims to be “an international partnership of Christians whose mission is to follow our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ in working with the poor and oppressed to promote human transformation, seek justice and bear witness to the good news of the Kingdom of God.”
Activities in Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza
- World Vision has five offices operating under the “country” name World Vision Jerusalem, West Bank, Gaza (WV-JWG); WV-JWG does not exist as a separate financial and legal entity.
- World Vision describes itself as being “committed to advocating for the improved well-being of children living under Israeli occupation” and “believes that the Israeli occupation has negative spiritual and psychological effects on Palestinians and Israelis, especially the children.”
- Views “[a]dvocacy and communications… as a critical component of World Vision’s work in the region” and “advocates at the local, national, regional, and global levels,” including “building the capacity of local Palestinian NGOs, encouraging youth to document their history and surroundings, providing photography training to vulnerable communities across the West Bank and Gaza.”
Israeli Branch of World Vision
- An Israeli NGO named World Vision (WV-IL) was registered with the Israeli Registrar of Non-Profits (R.A. 580110641) in 1988. Although the relationship between the two organizations is unclear, WV-JWG apparently overlaps to some degree with the Israeli entity.
- Correspondence between the Registrar and World Vision IL (available on file with NGO Monitor) reveals that for many years, the NGO failed to comply with information requests regarding financial records and audits relating to the use of its funds. It is unknown whether the NGO presented the missing documents to the Registrar.
- According to filings with the Registrar, income to the Israeli entity is provided entirely by World Vision International and “local donations.” According to WV-IL’s 2016 financial report, revenue in 2016 amounted to $10.2 million (latest available; accessed July 2, 2018).
- On November 3, 2021, the Israeli Registrar of Non-Profits petitioned the Jerusalem District Court to dissolve World Vision’s Israeli non-profit [on file with NGO Monitor].
- As justification for the request and following a multi-year investigation, the Registrar alleged that the local non-profit did not implement humanitarian projects as it claimed to and conducted financial transactions for purposes other than its stated goals – including providing funds to Hamas. According to the Register, checks belonging to the non-profit were found in the possession of Hamas operatives.
- The Registrar also charged that the non-profit’s executive and oversight frameworks were nonfunctional and ineffective.
- In January 2023, the Jerusalem District Court approved a request from the Israeli Registrar of Non-Profits to disband the Israeli World Vision branch, due to concerns of terror financing and financial mismanagement.
- Several senior officials in the World Vision Israeli entity (information taken from documents provided by the Registrar) have ties to NGOs promoting BDS activities and demonization of Israel:
- Sami Khoury, listed as the financial manager in the latest available documentation, is a member of Sabeel’s General Assembly. Sabeel is a leader of church divestment campaigns, utilizing overtly antisemitic language to demonize Israel.
- Raffoul Rofa, a board member since 2008 and chair since 2009, is also the director of the Society of St.Yves, a highly politicized Catholic NGO that is among the leaders of demonization campaigns, through allegations of “discriminatory policies” and “breach[ing] international law.” Founder Michel Sabbah authored (with Naim Ateek of Sabeel and Atallah Hanna) the 2009 Kairos Palestine document, which promotes BDS in churches, compares Israel with the South African apartheid regime, and denies the Jewish historical connection to Israel.
- Anton Asfar is a member of the WV-IL board of directors, and serves on the board of directors of St. Yves.
Trial and Conviction of Manager of Operations for World Vision in Gaza
- On June 15, 2016, Mohammad El-Halabi, the manager of operations for World Vision in Gaza, was arrested by Israeli authorities. Following a lengthy trial, he was convicted in the Beersheva District Court on June 15, 2022. The court published a 23 page summary of the 254 page classified verdict.
- El-Halabi was accused of diverting approximately $50 million over ten years from World Vision’s Gaza budget to the Hamas terrorist organization, including creating humanitarian projects and fictitious agricultural associations to act as a cover for the hijacking of monies and materials for Hamas..
- On June 15, 2022, the Be’er Sheva District Court convicted El-Halabi of the following offenses in relation to his diversion of humanitarian aid to Hamas while employed by the NGO World Vision: (For additional details, see NGO Monitor’s analysis: “Verdict in case of Mohammad El-Halabi/World Vision Diversion of Funds to Hamas.”)
- Contact with a foreign agent
- Membership in a terror organization: “The defendant took an active and significant part in the activities of Hamas and assisted Hamas over the years in a variety of ways, including transferring monies and equipment that he knew would be used to fund terrorism and assisting terrorists, as detailed in the indictment. The defendant even participated in military actions such as marking exit points for tunnel openings on the Israeli side of the Erez Crossing…”
- Illegal use of property for terror purposes
- Providing information to the enemy
- Illegal military training
- Possession of weapons and ammunition
- As revealed in court documents, in 2015, a Gaza-based accountant for World Vision informed his employers that he suspected el-Halabi of diverting funds to assist Hamas. He was fired and then interrogated by Hamas. Damningly, el-Halabi had a copy of the interrogation on his personal computer.
- El-Halabi had previously worked for the United Nations Development Agency (UNDP) before being accepted by World Vision.
- In response, World Vision stated they were “shocked” to learn of these charges and that “The funds entrusted to us are spent…in ways that do not fuel conflict but rather contribute to peace.”
- Following the allegations against and arrest of El-Halabi, the Australian government announced the suspension of funding to World Vision projects in the West Bank and Gaza.
- Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) indefinitely froze $1.66 million that had been earmarked for the organization.
World Vision Failures to Vet for Terror Links
- On December 22, 2020, the Oversight and Investigations Unit of the Senate Finance Committee published a memo detailing its investigation into a World Vision project in Sudan that was financed by the United States government’s international aid agency, USAID (a $723,405 grant in 2014 “to provide food security, sanitation equipment and health services to the conflict affected areas in the Blue Nile region of Sudan”).
- World Vision entered into a contract with the Islamic Relief Agency (ISRA) to assist in providing humanitarian services in this context. The Finance Committee document noted that ISRA has “an extensive history of supporting terrorist organization [sic]” – such as Hamas – “and terrorists, including Osama Bin Laden.”
- The Committee highlighted systemic failings at World Vision and noted, “Our review demonstrates this failure occurred because World Vision’s system for vetting prospective sub-grantees was borderline negligent and ignored elementary level investigative procedures, such as failing to conduct basic secondary research that is widely available to the public on the internet via free search engines.”
- World Vision has partnered with the Palestinian Children and Youth Institution (PCYI) on the program “Caring for Caregivers.” At the time of their partnership, PCYI was headed by PFLP leader Khaled Yamani.
- According to World Vision, “Our work in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories remains one of the most challenging places where we operate, and one of the most difficult for children. That’s why we have been there for more than 40 years.”
- Promotes a highly politicized and biased agenda, placing sole blame for the continuation of the conflict on Israel and paying little attention to legitimate Israeli security concerns or Palestinian terrorism against Israeli civilians. This includes calling the security barrier “illegal,” ignoring the fact that the barrier was built in the wake of the second intifada in which Israeli civilians were the targets of near daily suicide bombings.
- World Vision Australia financially supports the Palestine Israel Ecumenical Network, which was established “by church leaders who saw a particular role for Christians to advocate from a faith perspective about Palestinian human rights.” The Ecumenical Network “find[s] inspiration and direction from the Kairos Palestine document,” which denies Jewish historical connections to the land of Israel. The ecumenical network’s website features an “online resources” page, which includes texts that challenge Christian Zionism, as well as books and articles written by Naim Ateek, founder of anti-Israel NGO Sabeel, and others. Its website also promoted a May 16, 2014 event, organized by Friends of Palestine Western Australia, entitled “Commemorate Al Nakba: Protest Israeli Apartheid.“
- World Vision has partnered with Defense for Children – International. In October 2017, in honor of International day for Girl Child, World Vision JWG participated in a conference held by DCI-P.
- Numerous individuals with alleged ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a terrorist organization designated as such by the US, EU, Canada, and Israel, have been employed and appointed as board members at DCI-P. For more information on DCI-P’s PFLP ties, read NGO Monitor’s report “Defense for Children International – Palestine’s Ties to the PFLP Terror Group.”
- Endorsed the film, “With God on Our Side,” which attacks Christian support for Israel and presents an “anti-Jewish theology” and “biased misunderstanding of ‘Jews,’ ‘Zionist,’ and ‘Israel.’” The film was condemned for being “biased, simplistic, and factually incorrect.”
- Tom Getman, former head of Palestinian operations, has expressed virulently antisemitic hatred of the “Zionist enterprise” and its “idolatry.” In a video interview with Rev. Steven Sizer, Getman referred to members of Hezbollah as his “friends,” seeking their guidance regarding his position on Israel.
- As a member of the Association of International Development Agencies (AIDA), World Vision has been a signatory on numerous statements demonizing Israel.
- In November 2021, AIDA published a press release condemning the decision by the Israeli Ministry to designate six Palestinian NGOs as terrorist organizations. According to AIDA, “The decision is a further erosion of civic and humanitarian space and stands to significantly constrain the work of the six organisations which have worked with the international community, including the UN, for decades, providing essential services to countless Palestinians.”
- In May 2020, AIDA called for “third states, the EU, and its member states, to devise and publish an exhaustive list of countermeasures to adopt in order to disincentivise Israel’s annexation policies in the occupied Palestinian territory.”
- Issued a joint statement on November 19, 2012, with 44 other highly politicized organizations, including American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), Care International, DanChurchAid, Diakonia, Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP), Save the Children, and Norwegian Refugee Council, calling on the international community to “apply immediate pressure on the government of Israel” and warning of a “widespread humanitarian disaster in Gaza brought on by a prolonged [Israeli] military occupation.”
- The organization presents biased and historically inaccurate description of the conflict in its “Brief History of the Region.” The “history” fails to mention the Arab invasion that led to the 1948 War of Independence. Similarly, the profile offers no background or context to the 1967 Six Day War that led to Israel’s control over the West Bank and Gaza Strip simply stating that, “In 1967 Israel occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.”
- During the 2014 Gaza war, World Vision called for a ceasefire, but stated that, “There is no sign at the moment that this latest cycle of violence will contribute anything towards ending the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land and therefore will not bring security for Israel.”
- In 2010, reportedly financed a youth center named after Palestinian terrorist Abu Jihad, a founder of Fatah who planned numerous terrorist attacks against Israelis, including a 1978 bus hijacking, which resulted in the death of 37 civilians.
- In a July 14, 2004 op-ed in The Age (Melbourne), World Vision Australia’s Chief Executive Tim Costello described the security barrier as “part of the problem, not part of the solution,” evoking the highly politicized claim that the barrier “is reminiscent of the Cold War and Eastern Bloc oppression.” Costello’s comparison reflects the Palestinian propaganda effort to compare the Berlin Wall, designed to keep citizens from fleeing, with Israel’s security barrier, which protects Israel’s citizens.
Exploiting the suffering of Palestinian children in order to launch political attacks against Israel
- In May 2022, as part of a campaign to have Israel included on a UN sanction’s list of grave violators of children’s rights, World Vision was a signatory on a letter to the UN Secretary-General “reiterat[ing] our call to ensure that all parties to conflict responsible for committing a pattern of grave violations against children are listed in the annexes…Of similar concern, Israeli government forces have never been listed in the annexes.”
- World Vision promotes a very distorted narrative of the Arab-Israeli conflict. After the 2014 Gaza War, World Vision published that they termed first person accounts of children in Gaza, which cannot be verified and depict Israel as the sole aggressor and erasing the context of Hamas terrorism. World Vision failed to publish any findings on the effects of the war on Israeli children.
- On April 4, 2013, published an article, using manipulative and emotionally charged language, claiming that Palestinian “children are afraid to go to class” and “don’t feel safe” in school due to “violence by Israeli soldiers, including… shooting, throwing of teargas canisters and spraying wastewater onto village lands [West Bank].”
- Sponsored ten Palestinian children in Gaza who were “given cameras to simply take photos of their lives,” claiming that the photos provide a “glimpse into the everyday lives of children – lives that are shaped and influenced by the ongoing Israeli blockade”.
- Issued a press release on November 22, 2012, alleging that, “Children in Gaza are particularly vulnerable” and that “the people of Gaza have nowhere to go to escape violence, due to continued restrictions on movement and ongoing Israeli blockade.”
- In an April 2012 article in the Huffington Post, president of World Vision, Richard Stearns, falsely accused Israel of restricting Palestinian Christians from attending Easter services in Jerusalem. Former Israeli ambassador Michael Oren wrote an article in response, saying that, “Any Christian from the West Bank can reach Jerusalem on Good Friday and Easter” and that, “All allegations to the contrary are flagrantly untrue and represent a reckless attempt to defame the Jewish state.”
- World Vision is a member of UNICEF’s “Working Group on Grave Violations against Children” aimed at undertaking “consolidated efforts to monitor and report on grave violations against children in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt).” (Read NGO Monitor’s Report “UNICEF and its NGO Working Group: Failing Children.)
- States that the NGO Grassroots Jerusalem has “become one of World Vision’s strongest advocacy partners.” Also works with the NGO Ma’an Development Center. These NGOs are vocal supporters of BDS (boycotts, divestments, and sanctions) campaigns and frequently uses demonizing rhetoric against Israel.
- World Vision Australia Works in partnership with Union of Agricultural Works Committee (UAWC), an organization that explicitly endorses BDS (boycotts, divestments, and sanctions) campaigns against Israel.
- Also partners with B’Tselem, Breaking the Silence, HaMoked, Israeli Committee against House Demolitions (ICAHD), Rabbis for Human Rights, and Defense for Children International-Palestine (DCI-P).
- Member of Association of International Development Agencies (AIDA).
- In 2017, launched a campaign titled “#OpenGaza 50 Years Of Occupation. 10 Years Of Illegal Blockade” stating that “collective punishment of Palestinians in Gaza must end” and that “Gaza is an open air prison.”
- In August 2015, AIDA launched a campaign to “highlight the displacement of Palestinians across the West Bank and Gaza Strip.” The campaign included a press release of 31 international organizations calling on “world leaders to take urgent action to halt ongoing demolitions and hold the government of Israel accountable for the wanton destruction of Palestinian property and of projects funded by international aid in the occupied West Bank,” as well as two infographics on “Displacement and Replacement…Separating Palestinians Across the West Bank” and “20 Years of Talks- Keeping Palestinians Occupied.”
- Member of the “Displacement Work Group,” an initiative of Badil and OCHA to “monitor human rights violations (evictions, home demolitions, land confiscations) resulting in the displacement of people from their lands and communities,” along with: Addameer, Al-Haq, Al-Mezan, AIC, ARIJ, Badil, BIMKOM, B’Tselem, CARE Intnl., DCI – Palestine section, Diakonia, EAPPI, Ir Amim, ICAHD, Maan Development Ctr, Medical Aid for Palestinians, Oxfam UK, Oxfam Solidarite – Belgium, PA Govt. Spokesperson, PCHR, RHR, Society of St. Yves, Save the Children UK, Shatil, UNFPA, Stop the Wall, ACRI, UNFPA, WCLAC, and Yesh Din.
- World Vision is a member of the UN Education Cluster, Health and Nutrition Cluster, and WASH Cluster.
- Will US Taxpayers Fund Hamas Through New Humanitarian Aid? TPS, October 31, 2023
- World Vision, Friend of Terrorists Clifford Smith, Middle East Quarterly, Spring 2023
- The shortsightedness of World Vision Leonard Getz, American Thinker, January 9, 2019
- Protecting charities against terrorism and fraud James Dunn, INTHEBLACK, August 1, 2017
- World Vision hazy on how it spent Gaza cash Anthony Klan, The Australian, December 5, 2016
- Hidden World Vision aid funds fuel claims former exec funnelled money to Hamas Anthony Klan, The Australian, December 30, 2016
- World Vision's Decades-Long Hate Campaign Against Israel The Tower, December 2016
- Time to scrutinize foreign aid The Australian, November 29, 216
- Israel Charges Aid Group's Gaza Branch Manager with Funneling Funds to Hamas Isabel Kershner and Diaa Hadid, The New York Times, August 4, 2016
- Response to Tim Costello’s article in the Australian Jewish News, 9 September 2016 Facebook
- Behind the Headlines: Hamas exploitation of World Vision in Gaza to support terrorism Israel MInistry of Foreign Affairs, August 4, 2016
- World Vision Needs to Quit Anti-Israel Battlefield Dexter Van Zile, The Commentator, August 22, 2015
- World Vision: Strategies for Fund-Raising and Support for Hamas Dexter Van Zile, JCPA publication, March 1, 2015
- SWC Condemns World Vision Official for False and Damaging Remarks About Israel Simon Wiesenthal Center press release, January 30, 2015