The International Islamic News Agency is reporting on the decision by the Palestinian Authority to close 103 charities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in an attempt to weaken Hamas by building a government-run social services system using Western and Arab funds:
‘The government decided to close down 103 charities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip because they have violated the law,’ said Mahmoud Al Habbash, Minister of Social Affairs in a government appointed by Abbas after Hamas seized the Gaza Strip. Habbash said the move did not target any single group. He said that some of the charities were being used as ‘cover-ups for activities that contravene the law.
The reported noted that Habbash did not indicate how the ruling would be enforced in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. The report also noted that the bank accounts of Al-Salah Association, one of the largest Islamic charities in the Gaza Strip, were frozen earlier this month by Palestinian banks after the US government designated Al-Salah as a terrorist organization calling it a ‘key support node for Hamas’.
The global Muslim Brotherhood has played a significant role in the funding of Hamas charities, largely through the organization known as the Union of Good (UG), created by Muslim Brotherhood leader Sheikh Youssef Qaradawi following the beginning of the so-called The Second Intifada against Israel. Most of the organizations comprising the UG, such as INTERPAL and the Al-Aqsa Foundation, had been in existence for years and have been funneling funds to West Bank and Gaza charities believed by many governments to be supporting Hamas such as Al-Salah. Although banned in the U.S, the UG member organizations are located throughout the world but mainly in Europe and the Gulf Countries. Several but not all European governments have attempted to close the operations of UG organizations including Germany, the Netherlands, and Denmark but those actions have either been unsuccessful or successfully challenged in Denmark and the Netherlands. The UG organizations have never been acted against in major European countries such as France, the U.K. and Italy.