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DFAT suspends World Vision Palestinian Territories aid

Australia has suspended aid to support World Vision’s work in the Palestinian Territories in the wake of allegations the charity’s head in Gaza funnelled millions of dollars to Hamas.

Mohammad El Halaby, the manager of operations for World Vision in Gaza, is facing charges of diverting $US50 million ($A66 million) dollars to the group.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is investigating the “deeply troubling” matter.

“Any diversion of the generous support of the Australian and international community for military or terrorist purposes by Hamas is to be deplored and can only harm the Palestinian people,” said the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

“We are suspending the provision of further funding to World Vision for programs in the Palestinian Territories until the investigation is complete.”

Australia had allocated World Vision $5 million over five years for agricultural projects and child trauma programs in Gaza.

World Vision Australia CEO Tim Costello said the charity was shocked and puzzled by the charges.

“Based on the information available to us at this time, we have no reason to believe that the allegations are true. We will carefully review any evidence presented to us and will take appropriate actions based on that evidence,” said Costello.

“We have absolutely nothing to do with terror. We audit every cent that goes through.

“I want to reassure Australians that World Vision’s money in Gaza is being spent on reducing poverty for Palestinian people, not terrorism.”

Costello said El Halaby was a well-respected manager.

DFAT officials are seeking more information from World Vision and Israeli authorities.

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