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Attorneys at the civil rights group the Israel Law Center (Shurat HaDin) announced this week that they had “conclusive evidence” to show that a Gaza-based organization supported by two Australian groups was linked to the terror group the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).
The Law Center said World Vision Australia, a Christian child-advocacy group, and Australian government agency AusAID are breaking Australian and US laws by funding the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC), which has offices in Gaza City in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.
Attorney and Israel Law Center director Nitsana Darshan- Leitner and Australian solicitor Andrew Hamilton said they had compiled a dossier of evidence that implicated the UAWC as an arm of the PFLP, including proof that several members of the UAWC’s board of directors had close PFLP ties.
The announcement came after World Vision Australia said earlier this month that it had resumed its funding to UAWC, following a legal warning from the Israel Law Center in February.
The Israel Law Center sent legal warnings to both World Vision Australia and AusAID after the UAWC listed both groups as its supporters. The letters said that by supporting UAWC, World Vision Australia was “aiding and abetting Palestinian terrorism, and thereby violating Australian and United States anti-terrorism laws.”
Initially both groups announced they had suspended their funding to the UAWC, but weeks later said they had resumed it after carrying out an investigation.
A World Vision Australia spokeswoman told The Jerusalem Post earlier this month that its investigation had found that the Israel Law Center’s claims were “unfounded.”
“There is no impediment to WVA resuming its partnership with UAWC. UAWC is a nonprofit company that is registered with the Israeli Justice Ministry,” the spokeswoman said, adding that her organization’s support for the AMENCA project helps over 7,000 children in Gaza.
However, Darshan-Leitner said Monday that the Law Center found it “unbelievable” that World Vision Australia and AusAID were “unaware that the leadership of the UAWC were senior officials of the terrorist Popular Front.”
The Law Center said that UAWC board president Bashir al-Khairi is a well-known and senior member of the PFLP and heads the terror group’s political office in Ramallah.
According to the Law Center, Khairi, a lawyer, was still actively representing the PFLP as recently as January.
The UAWC board vice president, Jamil Muhammad Ismail al-Majdalawi, known as Jamil Ismail, is also a well-known PFLP member, the Law Center said, and heads the PFLP political office in Gaza as well as representing the terror group on the PLO’s central committee.
The Law Center also pointed to three other UAWC directors – Ramallah-based Razeq al-Barghouti, and Gazans Taghreed Jom’a and Faysal Khalafallah – who it says are also members of the PFLP.
The UAWC also makes its own assets directly available for the PFLP to use, the Law Center said, noting that the PFLP celebrated its 42nd anniversary at the UAWC’s hall in Khan Yunis in 2009.
PFLP deputy secretary-general Abdel Rahim Malouh was a VIP guest at the UAWC’s June 1, 2010, political protest, dubbed “Immortal Land Day,” the Law Center noted. It also noted apparent connections between the PFLP and the UAWC that the Post revealed as well in its own search of the former group’s Arabic language website, which includes detailed reports on the UAWC’s work, the most recent of which is dated February 2.
The Israel Law Center has warned that by funding the UAWC, World Vision Australia and AusAID could be liable for lawsuits because of the group’s PFLP links.
Under Australia’s Charter of the United Nations Act 1945, it is a strict liability offense for an individual or corporation to make an asset available directly or indirectly to a proscribed person or entity, including the PFLP.
The Israel Law Center said World Vision and AusAID may have violated that law, and called on the Australian Federal police to open an investigation on the matter.
The Sydney-based Hamilton said on Monday that the two Australian groups had exposed themselves and their staff to “millions in fines and potential jail terms.”
“They have added insult to injury by grossly misusing Australian taxpayers’ money and then misleading the Australian people by conducting an extremely superficial investigation while publicly claiming it was extensive and the allegations unfounded,” he added.