The Liberal Government of Canada has launched a new aid fund consisting of numerous partner charities aimed at relieving suffering in Beirut, Lebanon, following an explosion that has left thousands of people homeless and over 150 dead, which includes a charity accused of links to the Hamas terrorist organization based in the Gaza Strip. The announcement was made in a press release on Saturday.
The charity accused of Hamas ties, Islamic Relief, is among a dozen charities announced as partners in the Canadian government’s Lebanon Matching Fund aid package given to the “Humanitarian Coalition,” a grouping of charities that accordingly participate in “established UN-led humanitarian coordination processes,” as highlighted in the press release.
The Humanitarian Coalition has thus far received money from the Canadian government, at least $3.5 million CAD, while an additional $1.5 million has been given to the Lebanese Red Cross.
Islamic Relief has long been accused of connections to Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood by the Israeli government and by other countries. In December 2014, then-Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon signed a decree banning Islamic Relief Worldwide from operating in Israel, when he accused the charity at the time of being “another source of funds for Hamas, and we have no intention of allowing it to operate and assist terrorist activity against Israel.”
“This is another in a series of steps that we are taking against Hamas in Judea and Samaria and the pressure we are applying, the goal of which is to harm the organization’s leadership and rank-and-file as well as its civilian infrastructure. These serve as the foundation from which Hamas operates among the local population,” he added in 2014.
Earlier that year, in November 2014, the United Arab Emirates banned Islamic Relief due to alleged links to the Muslim Brotherhood, which Hamas originated from as an offshoot of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood in the late 1980s.
The Muslim Brotherhood, a conservative Islamist organization which operates in many Arab Sunni countries throughout the Middle East, has been accused by countries in the region of challenging state rule.
In 2016, HSBC, a multinational investment bank, also severed ties with Islamic Relief, while the government of Bangladesh barred the organization from providing relief to the embattled Rohingya people, who fled from persecution in Myanmar, out of concern for encouraging radicalism and funding militants.
Similarly, Germany also alleged in 2019 that Islamic Relief has “significant” personal ties with the Muslim Brotherhood.
Beyond the alleged ties between Islamic Relief, Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, the charity has been under fire as recently as July 2020 after Heshmat Khalifa, director of Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW), resigned from his position following the surfacing of Facebook posts that referred to Jews as the “grandchildren of monkeys and pigs.”
Likewise, in 2014 and 2015, Khalifa referred to the Egyptian president as a “Zionist pimp,” while also praising Hamas, calling it “the purest resistance movement in modern history.”
He later apologized for his remarks on social media, and resigned from his post as director.