On August 4, 2016, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) announced that Mohammed El-Halabi, the manager of operations in Gaza, of the international humanitarian non-governmental organization (NGO) World Vision, funneled 60% of World Vision’s Gaza budget to the terrorist group Hamas. The Israeli indictment and media reported that these funds were used in the construction of Hamas tunnels, military installations, and other terrorist activities.
World Vision International (WVI) disputes these allegations, arguing that the budget for Gaza operations was smaller than the amount of funds the Shin Bet states were diverted. In a press release, WVI claimed that, “World Vision’s cumulative operating budget in Gaza for the past ten years was approximately $22.5 million, which makes the alleged amount of up to $50 million being diverted hard to reconcile.”
NGO Monitor research demonstrates the obstacles to independent verification of World Vision’s financial claims regarding operations in Gaza. World Vision has five offices operating under the “country” Jerusalem-West Bank-Gaza (JWG); JWG does not exist as a separate financial and legal entity. According to the Israeli Registrar of Non-Profits, there is an Israeli World Vision entity, with offices in Jerusalem. Although the relationship between the entity registered in Israel and the JWG office is entirely unclear, they do apparently overlap to some degree.
- World Vision’s Israeli entity was founded in 1988 and is registered with the Israeli Registrar of Non-Profits (R.A. 580110641). According to the organization’s financial report, revenue in 2014 amounted to $16.3 million. The Israeli entity claims that it only receives funding from World Vision International and local donations.
- In 2016, the Israeli Registrar of Non-Profits served the organization with a notice, warning that it had failed to comply with transparency regulations regarding the use of its funds, in addition to failing to submit necessary documentation to the Registrar. It is unknown whether the NGO has yet presented the missing documents to the Registrar.
According to data published in World Vision JWG’s annual reports, the group’s income for 2004-2015 was $133 million. While the reports include details regarding various projects, they do not specify the budget for Gaza operations, with the exception of certain “emergency” grants. If, as claimed, the amount provided to Gaza over ten years was $22.5 million, World Vision does not account for how the rest of the funds were spent. From 2004-2015, World Vision JWG’s reported expenses were $84 million, nearly $50 million lower than the reported revenues for this period. It is unclear what was done with these surplus funds (See appendix for detailed tables).
In addition, World Vision officials have not publicized full details regarding the relationship between World Vision International, World Vision JWG, and the Israeli entity. It is therefore impossible to determine which office was responsible for managing the $22.5 million Gaza budget, and if any other World Vision funding entered Gaza through the other entities.
Table 1: World Vision JWG Income, Emergency Funding, and Expenses, 2004-2015 (in USD; based on annual reports)
Table 2: Funding to World Vision JWG by World Vision Branches, 2004-2015 (in USD; based on annual reports)