A British charity worker who was released from an Israeli prison without charge has been deported indefinitely from Israel.
Ayaz Ali, 36, from UK-based Islamic Relief Worldwide, was arrested by the Israeli security services on Tuesday May 9, 2006 and held for three weeks. He was detained and interrogated at Israel’s top-security Ashkelon prison before being released yesterday without charge.
An Israeli military judge ruled that there was no evidence against Mr Ali or Islamic Relief. However despite this, the Israeli Prime Minister’s office last night issued a statement accusing Islamic Relief of providing “support to and assistance to Hamas’s infrastructure.“ It also accuses Mr Ali of transferring “funds and assistance to various Hamas institutions.”
The allegations against Islamic Relief and Ayaz Ali are entirely unfounded and Islamic Relief will be making representations to the Israeli authorities refuting these claims.
Mr Ali has worked with Islamic Relief for five years and was appointed Programme Manager for its humanitarian projects in Gaza in December 2005. His work is solely humanitarian and neither he nor Islamic Relief is involved in any political or politically-motivated activities in the Palestinian Territories.
Islamic Relief does not transfer funds to any organisation in the Palestinian Territories. All its financial transactions are externally audited and also go through rigorous checks both internally and externally by the UK Charities Commission and agencies such as the European Commission who fund Islamic Relief’s work in the Palestinian Territories.
Mr Ali arrived in the UK this morning. He said:
“There is not a grain of truth in anything that Islamic Relief or I have been accused of by the Israeli authorities. I was interrogated for 20 days and every time I made it clear to them that we do not have any political links and are only interested in humanitarian work. In the end they found no evidence to support their claims and were forced to let me go.”
Islamic Relief President Dr Hany El Banna, OBE said:
“Islamic Relief has been working in the Palestinian Territories since 1994, providing humanitarian aid to vulnerable people. Any aid agency working in the region, particularly one with ‘Islamic’ in its title, undergoes regular scrutiny. We have been accused and cleared every time and will continue to do our duty to humanity.”