What is Is­rael’s case against them?

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS -

Sheikh was an avowed sup­porter of Ha­mas and de­fender of sui­cide bomb­ings against Is­raeli civil­ians.

In 2008, the US Trea­sury al­leged that the UoG acted “as a bro­ker for Ha­mas by fa­cil­i­tat­ing fi­nan­cial trans­fers between a web of char­i­ta­ble or­gan­i­sa­tions” and des­ig­nated it as a ter­ror­ist en­tity.

Is­lamic Re­lief told me it “was never a mem­ber or sup­porter of the Union of Good and never gave its con­sent to be listed as such”. Yet its name was on the Union of Good web­site from 2001 to 2003. Can the char­ity re­ally have been obliv­i­ous to that? The Union of Good was es­tab­lished by the Lon­don­based Pales­tinian char­ity, In­ter­pal. The US Trea­sury has al­leged that In­ter­pal was “a prin­ci­pal char­ity uti­lized to hide the flow of money to Ha­mas”. In­ter­pal has cat­e­gor­i­cally de­nied having any links with Ha­mas, which is des­ig­nated as a ter­ror­ist or­gan­i­sa­tion in the US, UK, the EU.

How­ever, fol­low­ing an in­ves­ti­ga­tion I car­ried out on In­ter­pal for the BBC Panorama pro­gramme in 2009 the UK Char­ity Com­mis­sion or­dered In­ter­pal to sever its links with the Union of Good.

The Com­mis­sion found that “con­tin­ued mem­ber­ship” was “not ap­pro­pri­ate” be­cause “des­ig­nated or­gan­i­sa­tions” were among the UoG’s mem­ber­ship. There was also a “lack of clar­ity sur­round­ing the con­sti­tu­tion, or­gan­i­sa­tion struc­ture and mem­ber­ship of the Union of Good”.

The Com­mis­sion also asked the UoG to sup­ply the names of its UK mem­bers. Is­lamic Re­lief was not one of them. How­ever, a year later, its name was again listed by the UoG, this time on its Ara­bic web­site.

This June Is­lamic Re­lief was out­lawed by Is­rael, whose do­mes­tic in­tel­li­gence ser­vice al­leged it was “an­other source of funds for Ha­mas”. The char­ity is now banned by Is­rael from the West Bank.

The Is­raelis have not re­sponded to Is­lamic Re­lief’s re­quest for de­tails of the case against them. Is­lamic Re­lief say they are “ex­tremely sur­prised and con­cerned” at the de­ci­sion to out­law them and cat­e­gor­i­cally deny “any links with Ha­mas.”

How­ever, it is un­likely that Is­lamic Re­lief will be pre­vented from work­ing in Gaza by the Bri­tish gov­ern­ment, even if Is­rael is able to show that they have re­mit­ted funds to or­gan­i­sa­tions linked to Ha­mas.

The rea­son for this is that the For­eign Of­fice takes a dif­fer­ent view from the Is­raelis, the Amer­i­cans and some other gov­ern­ments such as Ger­many as to what con­sti­tutes fund­ing Ha­mas.

In­te­gral to the Ha­mas move­ment is its wel­fare in­fra­struc­ture which runs char­i­ta­ble or­gan­i­sa­tions in Gaza and the West Bank.

Over the years, mil­lions have been sent or di­rected to th­ese or­gan­i­sa­tions by In­ter­pal and the Union for Good.

Whilst there is no ev­i­dence that this money has bought weapons, the Amer­i­cans and oth­ers have none­the­less re­garded this as fund­ing Ha­mas be­cause Ha­mas lead­ers have them­selves em­pha­sised the seam­less na­ture of the move­ment’s three con­stituent parts: so­cial, po­lit­i­cal and mil­i­tary.

Ha­mas’s wel­fare or­gan­i­sa­tions are part of its po­lit­i­cal wing and Ha­mas’s founder, the late Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, said its po­lit­i­cal and mil­i­tary wings are “one body. We can­not sep­a­rate the wing from the body. If we do so, the body will not be able to fly.”

Like­wise, Ha­mas’s cur­rent po­lit­i­cal supremo Khalid Mishaal has said: “You can­not say that Ha­mas is only a re­li­gious, or only a po­lit­i­cal, or only a mil­i­tary, or only a re­li­gious and so­cial move­ment. It is not, for ex­am­ple, just an armed wing or a po­lit­i­cal party. It is all of th­ese things. It is a fu­sion of all th­ese di­men­sions.”

A key Ha­mas polit­buro mem­o­ran­dum has also ac­knowl­edged that Ha­mas’s “so­cial move­ment” is an in­te­gral part of what it calls “The Ha­mas Project”.

That project is de­scribed as build­ing “the or­gan­i­sa­tional in­fra­struc­ture for a Ji­hadi (strug­gle) to project both against the Zion­ist oc­cu­pa­tion in Pales­tine in par­tic­u­lar and against the Zion­ist project in gen­eral” — all ul­ti­mately aimed at elim­i­nat­ing Is­rael and re­plac­ing it with an Is­lamic state, as or­dained by the Ha­mas Char­ter.

The Amer­i­cans have ar­gued that fund­ing Ha­maslinked wel­fare or­gan­i­sa­tions al­lows Ha­mas to pro­mote its own ex­treme form of re­li­gious pros­e­lytis­ing — or da’wah.

This in turn as­sures pop­u­lar sup­port for the Ha­mas move­ment as a whole, in­clud­ing its mil­i­tary wing, and helps Ha­mas to com­pete with op­pos­ing po­lit­i­cal fac­tions, par­tic­u­larly, its main ri­val Fatah.

By con­trast, the For­eign Of­fice here, whilst ac­knowl­edg­ing that Ha­mas’s “po­lit­i­cal wing is rep­re­sented by char­i­ta­ble or­gan­i­sa­tions”, ar­gues that Ha­mas’s mil­i­tary wing op­er­ates sep­a­rately.

For its part, In­ter­pal says that while some of its funds may have gone to or­gan­i­sa­tions linked to Ha­mas, only humanitarian need — not ide­ol­ogy — has de­ter­mined the choice.

I hope this helps to ex­plain the com­plex­i­ties of char­i­ta­ble fund­ing in Gaza.

The JC Face­book Fu­ri­ous would be bet­ter off us­ing their en­ergy to take up any fur­ther ques­tions with the Bri­tish gov­ern­ment.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.