A Texas foundation that sends some $5 million each year to the families of Palestinians killed, exiled or imprisoned for Hamas activity has stirred an international controversy, the Dallas Morning News reported on June 12.
The Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development says it uses money raised from American donors to support needy Palestinians – regardless of their politics. “We are totally against any kind of violence,” said Assad Abusharkh, chairman of the foundation’s governing board in Gaza.
But Israel has pressed the U.S. to take action against the foundation, saying it uses its money to support the Hamas cause of creating an Islamic state by force.
Dozens of international relief agencies offer social services and economic assistance in Gaza, where Palestinians live in poverty. More than a third of all Gazans make $650 or less per year, and more than half of refugees are under 15.
Israeli security officials charge that the Holy Land Foundation operates under the mantle of charity to support Hamas activists and recruit new members.
“The idea is that after families get health services, children will go to their schools. Then the children will support Hamas. That is the system,” said Shai Nitzan, a prosecutor with the Israeli Justice Ministry.
Sheik Ahamad Yassin, a 1987 cofounder of Hamas, denies any relation to the foundation. Another top Hamas spokesman, Dr. Mahmoud Zahhar, said the Hamas is funded through individual donations from wealthy muslims worldwide – not from the foundation.
For the full text of the article, go to the Dallas Morning News.