Monday, August 15, 2016

Who actually cares that foreign aid is diverted from needy Gazans to terror?

 Arnold Roth in his latest blog “This Ongoing War”  discusses what can only be called “apathy” and even “irresponsibility” to the disclosures that tax payers money is beinig used for one of the most expensive projects in the world – the tunnels under Gaza.

He writes “Audit firms, governments and Christian aid groups are sorting out their post-exposé strategies following the arrests of several Palestinian Arabs on charges of illegally and surreptitiously siphoning vast sums into Palestinian Arab terror”

In a precised version of the blog, he further writes - "Yet the human rights organisations and the taxpayers around the world don’t seem to be expressing concern at the diversion of funds have caused.

The latest news from Gaza - just this month and just from Palestinian Arab sources indicates this vast engineering project is not going smoothly:

·                August 6, 2016: Tunnel collaps." [IMEMC, a Palestinian media source which "combines Palestinian journalists’ deep understanding of the context, history, and the socio-political environment with International journalists’ skills in non-partisan reporting."]

·                August 10, 2016: Another tunnel collapse [Ma'an News Agency, based in Bethlehem]

·                August 14, 2016: Yet anoth collapse. The Institute for Palestine Studies reported in 2012 that Hamas authorities had counted 160 deaths inside the tunnels since the Israeli blockade began in 2007, and in August 2014, al-Jazeera reported that figure to be as high as 400." [IMEMC]

This is infrastructure investment is on a truly serious scale. So, in hideous terms, is the pay-off:

"A Hamas operative who was captured in June after illegally crossing into Israel revealed that the terrorist group’s fighters can travel underground throughout the entirety of Gaza." [The Tower, August 11, 2016]

David Feith, of the Wall Street Journal reaffirms the depressing point ["Your Tax Dollars Fund Palestinian Terror", August 11, 2016] that none of this could happen but for the willful blindness of governments, foremost among them the United States.

This revelation should spur a broader reassessment of American aid to the Palestinian government... [since] the Palestinian government has used U.S. and other foreign taxpayers’ money to pay generous rewards to the families of terrorists. The deadlier the crime, the larger the prize, up to about $3,100 a month, or several times the average salary of a worker in Palestine’s non-terrorist economy... No U.S. official can plead ignorance. Palestinian law has sanctioned these payments since at least 2004, specifying how much money is earned depending on the circumstances of the attacker and the body count. [WSJ, August 11, 2016

Unfortunately there have been few signs from the aid agencies themselves that they acknowledge the problems (other than the problem of facing accusations from the unloved government of Israel) and in particular that their internal checks are lacking. At the UNDP, they are now saying they have zero tolerance for wrongdoing in all of its programmes and projects [The Guardian, August 9, 2016]
so look elsewhere for solutions, they seem to say.This is bold and brave of them considering that two years ago, an internal UN audit report found serious short-comings including

·                Their Gaza operation should have been using an electronic funds transfer system with local banks that would have allowed the UNDP program to “be notified electronically when any bank transactions take place,”  including, as the report delicately puts it, “transactions not made by UNDP.” But it didn't use it. Why? Good question.
·                Core procurement  processes for ordering up “significant” civil construction activities that were supposed to be handled strictly by staffers - were not. Outsiders somehow got into the process. Why? Anyone's guess. The auditors called this a “critical” lapse and demanded “prompt action... to ensure that UNDP is not exposed to high risks. Failure to take action could result in major negative consequences for UNDP.” We will watch to see whether this fault gets mentioned in future media reports. 

·                "The office’s internal financial tracking system — a UNDP-wide system known as Atlas — was improperly recording at least $8 million worth of civil construction spending at far less than its full value, a practice that UNDP auditors noted could keep the activity under the radar of higher-level U.N. officials who must approve purchase orders above defined cost threshold levels."

·                Expenditures and receipts were not adequately tracked in the financial system. For instance, a sampling of 41 payment vouchers showed 12 purchase orders had no receipts recorded. “This practice,” the report noted, “increases the risk of paying for goods that are not delivered.” [Fox News, August 11, 2014]

Aid workers privately admit to feeling pressure from Hamas, with the powerful group seeking to influence how projects are organized. In a few rare cases NGOs have seen their offices temporary closed by Hamas... ["Foreign aid workers fear the impact of Hamas allegations", AFP/Saudi Gazette, August 11, 2016]

Israel's concern for the well-being of the Gazans, suffering for years already under the jackboot of a kelptocratic Fatah regime and then, for the past nine years, under the ruthless Islamists of Hamas, may not be top of its list of concerns. But it's undoubtedly a concern. "

No comments: