In early August Israel revealed that it had arrested two foreign aid officials who had been in charge of disbursing major huge amounts of foreign aid operations in Gaza. Since no one else will do anything Israel is prosecuting the two men, in large part because both aid officials were secretly working for Hamas and diverting much of the aid money to Hamas terrorist activities. One of the accused, Mohammed al Halabi, turned out to be a career Hamas operative who joined the Gaza branch of World Vision and worked his way up to a senior position where he could divert nearly $8 million in cash and aid materials to Hamas military and terror operations. World Vision is a major Christian charity that handles over $2.5 billion a year for aid operations in 90 countries. Many of the World Vision donors are Christian denominations or wealthy individuals. Some of the major World Vision donors refuse to believe Halabi could be guilty, despite evidence documenting the thefts and the many complaints of Gaza residents that foreign aid was not reaching them.
Hamas also recruited an employee (Wahid al Bursh) of the UNDP (United Nations Development Program) to divert large quantities of relief materials to Hamas. Bursh confessed after the Israelis arrested him but the UN is claiming that he has diplomatic immunity. Such immunity is usually reserved for senior UN officials who are not citizens of the areas where they are working. Bursh (arrested in July) and Halabi (arrested in June) are both locals.
There is growing political and media pressure to free Bursh and Halabi. Many aid groups and their donors believe this is another evil Israeli conspiracy to destroy Islam, but many other aid officials will not admit that they have been through this before and that Bursh and Halabi are probably only two of many who have been plundering the billions of dollars in aid money sent to Gaza and other Palestinian refugees in the last few decades.
This form of corruption rarely makes the news in a big way. That last time it did was in 2008. That was when al Qaeda operations in Iraq were largely destroyed and many documents captured and senior al Qaeda officials captured and interrogated. From all that came details of how hundreds of companies in 66 countries had paid $1.8 billion in bribes to participate the 1996-2003 program that allowed Saddam Hussein, under UN supervision, to sell $60 billion worth of oil to buy food and medicine. Instead, Saddam found thousands of corrupt UN officials and company executives willing to pay kickbacks in order to get contracts. These deals involved selling Saddam items he was forbidden from having, and helping smuggle these weapons or luxury goods into Iraq. Most of the imports were for the benefit of Saddam's supporters (the Sunni Arab minority, who were, at most, 20 percent of the population.) The resulting sickness and starvation among the Shia majority was blamed on the West and the 1991 sanctions. Many people believed this. Many people find it convenient to still believe this. Many UN officials and firms have already admitted to participating in this scam. Details of this massive fraud began surfacing after American and British forces overthrew Saddam in 2003 but even more details came out after 2008.
Even many UN aid officials, and a growing number of donors, admit that corruption in aid operations worldwide is becoming more and more of a problem. In a growing number of situations, particularly in Africa and the Middle East, most of the aid gets stolen before it gets to the people who need it. This is the prime cause of the growing problems the UN has in raising the money it says are desperately needed to feed and otherwise help refugees and victims of violence in many areas.