Is there a connection between Swedish aid and Hamas institutions?

April 27, 2015 23:17
3 minute read.
Niña palestina celebra el aniversario número 27 de Hamás(Credito: REUTERS)

Niña palestina celebra el aniversario número 27 de Hamás(Credito: REUTERS). (photo credit: REUTERS)


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The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), which falls under the aegis of the Swedish Foreign Ministry, has for several years cooperated with the Islamic Relief (IR) organization.

According to SIDA documentation, SIDA renewed its agreement with IR last year, giving the international organization more than 59 million SEK ($6.8m.) for various aid projects.

However, IR is associated not only with aid, but also with the Muslim Brotherhood and with funding terrorist organizations, and has therefore been on the United Arab Emirates’ list of terrorist-related organizations since last year. In 2006 the Israeli authorities were notified of IR’s terrorism connections, resulting in the arrest of IR’s project manager at the time, Iyaz Ali. Ali confessed that he was in contact with the Hamas and had transferred funds to organizations linked to Hamas.

Since June 19, 2014, IR has been forbidden to work in Israel, including in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank). Defense minister Moshe Ya’alon said in a statement that IR was a source of funds for Hamas and that Israel had no intention of allowing it to operate and assist terrorist activity against Israel.

According to the Israeli Foreign Ministry, IR’s activities in Judea and Samaria and the Gaza Strip were carried out by social welfare organizations controlled and staffed by Hamas operatives. The intensive activities of these associations have been designed to further Hamas’s ideology among the Palestinian population, the ministry stated.

After the Israeli ban, IR last year commissioned an “independent investigation” of its office departments and activities in the Palestinian territories. The investigation found no evidence of links to Hamas. However, the investigation took place long after the accusations against the organization were publicized and did not cover the entire international organization. Criticism has also been leveled at IR by the Gatestone Institute, a New York-based think tank, revealing that current Islamic Relief Worldwide board members have links to anti-Semitic and Islamist movements.

In the IR’s aid project Emergency Cashfor- Work, which was funded by SIDA between 2008-2014 with over 32 million SEK ($3.69m.), internships for unemployed academics were arranged in Gaza institutions and organizations. Islamic University of Gaza (IUG), founded by Hamas spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, is one of the institutions that has benefited. To date, the university has been governed by Hamas members and activists.

At IUG Hamas has developed its Kassam rockets, and the campus store sells assorted Hamas propaganda and DVD movies that pay tribute to terrorism. Additionally, televised anti-Semitic plays have taken place at the university.

Sixteen of the teachers and lecturers at the university are elected Hamas politicians and many of the Hamas elite have either lectured or studied at IUG.

To top it off, the internationally notorious anti-Semitic Islamic preacher Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who advocates for terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians (including infants), has become IUG’s own doctor of honor.

In other words, Sweden has provided a university that is a terrorist and anti-Semitic stronghold for Hamas with a labor force, and has paid for it. Swedish tax money has paid the wages of academics in universities like IUG, and in hospitals and institutions in local municipalities. Instead of using relief money for job creation and true peace efforts for the people in Gaza, Hamas has used it to on weapons and tunnels.

147 organizations and institutions in the Gaza Strip have benefited from the Swedish- funded labor force, according to SIDA’s documentation. However, there are only a few of these institutions and organizations named in SIDA’s documentations on the project.

SIDA lacks a complete list of organizations and institutions benefiting from the project.

Thus, it is conceivable that more institutions and organizations closely associated with Hamas have benefited from the labor paid for by SIDA funds. SIDA’s way of handling its funds seems very irresponsible, and what is truly disappointing is that NGO Monitor, a research institute that monitors aid work and NGOs in the Palestinian territories, have called for SIDA’s attention to the links between IR and Hamas, yet the Swedish authority seems to ignore the information. International and Swedish media should investigate much more carefully where the aid goes and how it affects goals like peace-building.

SIDA must adopt a new, firm policy and approach against partners accused of supporting terrorism. SIDA should immediately cease all cooperation with IR because of the organization’s links to institutions and organizations strongly associated with Hamas, which the Swedish government has designated a terrorist organization. It is time for SIDA to take responsibility.

The author is a spokesperson for Perspective on Israel (PPI).

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