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World Vision officials have professed to be “shocked” by the arrest in Israel last week of Mohammed El-Halabi, the head of the megacharity’s Gaza operations. Mr. Halabi is accused of repurposing over the course of 10 years up to $7.2 million a year, in cash and materials, to Hamas. That’s approximately 60% of World Vision’s total aid to Gaza.
The broader problem is that due diligence for humanitarian aid in war and terror zones requires the allocation of significant resources and a professional staff capable of detaching itself from the pressures and sympathies of the local environment. World Vision, like most aid groups operating in Gaza, clearly failed in this respect.
World Vision’s troubles in Gaza reflect the broader moral failures of the humanitarian-aid industry. The narrow vision of aid workers contribute to a willful blindness to terrorism. The competition for publicity and donations results in alliances with brutal regimes and corrupt warlords. But thanks to the NGO “halo effect,” many donors also neglect due diligence, instead relying on the pure reputation of the recipient organization.
Aid groups also need to obtain and use intelligence information, particularly regarding employees and their activities. Some of this can be developed internally, and some can be purchased from consulting firms. And instead of adopting the Palestinian culture of noncooperation with Israeli security, it is in the interests of these organizations to quietly open channels of communication and information sharing.