As chief government of Islamic Aid, it’s my privilege to preside over one of many UK’s main worldwide assist charities, broadly revered for working successfully in a number of the world’s most troublesome and harmful locations. For the Ministry of Protection in Israel, nevertheless, Islamic Aid is a supporter of terrorism – a cost that we categorically refute and will probably be interesting in opposition to in Israel’s supreme courtroom subsequent month.
The Israeli authorities designated us as a terrorist organisation as way back as 2014, claiming that we had been a entrance for Hamas. It has taken six lengthy years for us to pursue a authorized problem to this designation. Our case will lastly be heard on 12 October.
Opposite to the allegations in opposition to us, Islamic Aid is a purely humanitarian organisation that delivers assist in strict compliance with humanitarian and worldwide authorized ideas. Final 12 months we assisted greater than 9.5 million individuals of all faiths and none throughout 5 continents, working with quite a few western governments and UN our bodies who worth our capacity to function in hard-to-reach areas.
In Yemen, which is struggling what the UN calls the world’s worst humanitarian disaster, I noticed for myself on a go to final 12 months how we’re feeding 2.2 million individuals every month as the principle companion of the UN World Meals Programme.
The truth is that Islamic Aid is definitely a sufferer of terrorism, not a supporter of it. We’ve got misplaced eight courageous employees to bombs and bullets in six international locations, together with Syria, Yemen, Somalia and Afghanistan.
Our authorized motion in Israel has been pricey and time consuming, however the courts had been the one place left to defend our good identify and arise for the communities we serve within the West Financial institution and Gaza. All efforts at dialogue with the Israeli authorities in London and Tel Aviv, making an attempt to know and deal with any issues, had fallen on deaf ears.
Earlier than the designation we had been offering assist to greater than 70,000 individuals within the West Financial institution, the place poverty may be life-threatening and a pair of.5 million individuals depend on outdoors assist. We are actually prevented from working there. We’re fortunately persevering with our in depth work in Gaza, which isn’t affected by Israel’s ban. Our £10m programme there helps quite a lot of training, well being, shelter and employment initiatives benefiting almost 400,000 individuals.
Islamic Aid is just not the one assist organisation grappling with Israeli authorities restrictions. As way back as 2011, analysis by the Affiliation of Worldwide Improvement Companies (AIDA) – which represents greater than 80 worldwide organisations working within the occupied territories – discovered that entry and motion restrictions had been combining to “deny probably the most susceptible populations from wanted help” and contributing to the “rising impoverishment” of Palestinian communities.
The main Israeli human rights attorneys representing us are rightly difficult the assertion that we’re a terrorist organisation. What’s alleged, as we see it, is just not that we materially assist Hamas however somewhat that our humanitarian work makes Hamas look good within the eyes of the native inhabitants, and that that is tantamount to supporting terrorism.
I’m a humanitarian, not a lawyer, however for me that is an affront to the integrity of the complete humanitarian assist group, successfully branding each assist organisation aiding the individuals of Gaza as a terrorist entity.
Our attorneys are additionally difficult the allegation that we’re wilfully supporting the households of deceased Hamas fighters by our orphans programme. In actuality this programme operates exactly because it does in some other nation we work in, and as different assist organisations function such programmes in Gaza and elsewhere. The selection of beneficiaries is decided solely by wants assessments carried out by expert employees to determine these most in want.
In the middle of our authorized proceedings, we now have made a number of proposals to the Israeli Ministry of Protection to handle their issues. We’ve got supplied to not use funds within the West Financial institution or Gaza which have been donated to Islamic Aid by organisations thought-about “illegal associations” by Israel. We’ve got supplied to reveal each mission to extra exterior scrutiny, and to submit our annual work plan for Gaza to the Israeli authorities. Sadly, we now have not been capable of attain any settlement.
One other allegation we strongly refute is that Islamic Aid has ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. We’ve got no political affiliations of any type. I attend each board assembly, each senior administration crew assembly, and I can personally vouch that no exterior organisation influences or controls Islamic Aid. A number of sign-off in our monetary techniques protects in opposition to any particular person with an agenda spiriting cash away.
Previously decade greater than 500 audits of our programmes have been carried out, in lots of instances mandated by governments and different institutional donors. Not one has discovered a shred of proof of hyperlinks to extremism or terrorism, and that features greater than 20 audits within the West Financial institution and Gaza. Our main donors wouldn’t assist us if allegations of terrorism hyperlinks had been remotely credible.
We’ve got just lately demonstrated, in swiftly and decisively eradicating two trustees liable for offensive social media posts, that we are going to not hesitate to do the best factor if or when legit issues are raised.
Regardless of the courtroom decides about our operations within the West Financial institution, we can not and won’t be deflected from our lifesaving and life-changing humanitarian mission in Gaza and around the globe.
• Naser Haghamed is chief government of Islamic Aid Worldwide