Today (June 28, 2018), The Daily Telegraph (Australia) ran an exclusive article on how the Australian government will audit “taxpayer funds [that] are being funnelled to a Palestinian aid organisation that has employed and supported a leader of a terrorist group in Gaza.”
The Australian Union Aid Abroad – APHEDA, which describes itself as “the global justice organisation of the Australian union movement,” received 40% of its income from government sources in 2016-17 (latest available) – in particular from AusAID (Australian Agency for International Development). In turn, APHEDA funds a Palestinian organization known as Ma’an Development Center. According to APHEDA’s 2017 annual report, it is “implementing a significant five-year Australian government-funded program… in partnership with MA’AN Development Center” and others.
A Ma’an Development Center employee, Ahmed Aladini, was killed during the Gaza-border violence on May 14. APHEDA released a statement condemning Israel and mourning Aladini. On May 15, 2018, Ma’an Development Center posted on Facebook a memorial notice for Aladini, referring to him as a “colleague and martyr.” (Ma’an has since removed the post.)
So did the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a terrorist organization designated as such by the US, EU, Canada, and Israel, which labeled Aladini as a “comrade” and “its esteemed martyr… who was martyred as he participated in the uprising of return.” He was also described as “a member of the leadership of the PFLP in Deir al-Balah…. He was one of the first comrades to join the activities, events and committees of the Great Return March, never disappearing from the camps of return, continuing to participate in the marches to the colonial fence and marching toward our occupied Palestine, believing firmly in the inevitability of liberation.”
Further research shows that Aladini’s affinity for the PFLP was clearly displayed on his Facebook page, where he regularly posted PFLP propaganda and other materials that glorify violence and terrorists.
This represents a major due diligence failure by AusAID, which did not identify the terror affiliations of key partners to a government-funded project. In the wake of allegations that a World Vision employee was a Hamas operative who diverted funds to the terror group, this is inexcusable.
Worse yet, AusAID had previously been made aware of concerns regarding APHEDA and Ma’an Development Center, and the unsuitability of the latter as a partner for the Australian government. During a July 2, 2011 hearing of the Australian Senate’s Foreign Affairs, Defence, and Trade Legislation Committee, Senator Eric Abetz challenged officials from AusAID over funding to Ma’an: “What are the safeguards in place that prevent AusAID funding being used by APHEDA [‘overseas humanitarian aid agency of the Australian Council of Trade Unions’] or any of the others in a manner that contravenes Australian government policy on Israel? Let us just pluck an example out of the air like BDS—Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions.”