A UK charity, which has been banned in Israel, has been reported to the Charity Commission.
UK Lawyers for Israel (UKLFI), a voluntary association of lawyers combatting anti-Israel and antisemitic activity, has submitted a complaint to the Charity Commission regarding Education Aid for Palestinians (EAP).
EAP describes itself as “working to provide Palestinians a better future through a plethora of targeted projects and programs.”
Several donations platforms and financial organisations that dealt with donations to EAP have already severed their links with the charity. However, EAP is a registered UK Charity, and benefitted from over £58,000 of tax payers’ money through gift aid in 2017.
EAP was declared a banned association in Israel in 2008 for being part of Hamas’ fund raising operation, the Union of Good. The Union of Good was itself designated as a terrorist organisation in the US in 2008, for diverting charitable donations to support Hamas members and the families of terrorist operatives.
Over half of EAP’s £1.4m income in 2017 came from Interpal, another English charity, regulated by the Charity Commission, but which is designated as a terrorist organisation in the US, Canada, Australia and Israel. Interpal denies that it is a terrorist entity, but the designations remain in force.
Interpal describes itself as “a specialist, non-political charity working to support the most vulnerable and support Palestinian communities and says “We exist to empower Palestinians to face their challenges and hardships in our principal areas of operation: the West Bank, Gaza Strip and the refugee camps in Jordan and Lebanon.”
The current chief executive officer of EAP is Muin Shabib, who according to the US Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) is a former Hamas commander who worked for the Hamas financial network.
Shabib was the person who at a 1993 Hamas meeting in Philadelphia, recorded by the FBI, categorised the institutions tied to Hamas . The recording was part of the evidence regarding the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, which had been the largest Islamic charity in the USA. In 2009, its founders sentenced to between 15 and 65 years in prison for funnelling $12 million to Hamas.
Zaher Birawi, one of EAP’s current trustees has been personally designated in Israel, for his unlawful association with Hamas.
Birawi has been involved in organizing and launching flotillas to Gaza and was spokesman for Viva Palestina, an organisation that was removed from the UK register of charities following an inquiry in 2013. The Charity Commission have only this week published findings from the 2013 inquiry, saying that Viva Palestina “may not have conducted any charitable activity or distributed any humanitarian aid.”
Hamas’s official website refers to Birawi as Chairman of the “International Coordination Committee for the Great Return March.”
EAP pays fees for around 60 students at the University College of Applied Sciences (UCAS) in Gaza. UCAS is, according to the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) , a centre for the development and storage of weapons.  Consequently it was targeted by them during the 2008, 2014 and 2018 conflicts..
UCAS is the host and founder of the annual Palestine Festival for Childhood and Education in Gaza, an event which has featured young veiled girls and boys in military uniforms simulating stabbing attacks on Israelis, killing IDF soldiers and releasing Palestinian terrorist from Israeli jails.
The Islamic University of Gaza (IUG), has also been the recipient of EAP’s donations. Munir Ashi, former chairman of EAP’s trustees, visited IUG in March 2009 and presented them with a donation of £120,000 in order to rebuild the IT and Science laboratories. IUG is also reported to be a weapons development and storage centre and was, as a result, bombed by the IDF during the Gaza wars in 2008 and 2014.
4 October 2019 – Update
The Charity Commission has assessed EAP following the complaint by UKLFI and concludes that it does not consider that any regulatory action is required at this time.
In relation to IUG and UCAS, the two universities, linked to Hamas, the Charity Commission states that it “has not taken any steps to further investigate the specific allegations in the report in relation to these institutions” but nevertheless concludes that it has not seen any information to suggest that any charitable funds given to UCAS or IUG may have been used for non-charitable activities.
The Commission acknowledges the information that past and current trustees of EAP are designated in Israel but says that since these individuals are not designated in the UK, “the Commission is not aware of any reason why these individuals cannot legally be trustees of a UK charity”.
A Gaza Vocational College Devastated by the War