IHRC wrote to the Charity Commission on 19 January 2024 regarding fundraising for the Israeli Defense Forces being facilitated by a UK based charity, UK Toremet (charity registration number 1140972).
The text of the letter is pasted below.
We are compelled to write to you again to complain about the activities of UK Toremet, a British registered charity that continues to facilitate the supply of materials to the Israeli army, in apparent contravention of Charity Commission regulations.
We regret to have to tell you that we believe that the Commission’s failure to act firmly and decisively on previous complaints about the organisation has led to a situation whereby it continues to exploit its charity status to raise money from the British public for the pursuit of the military objectives of a foreign force.
You will be aware that we made a separate complaint to the Commission in 2015 about UK Toremet.
The complaint, based on an extensive investigation, alleged that funds raised by UK Toremet, which serves as a UK portal that funnels money to a range of Israel-based organisations that buy supplies for the Israeli army.
The outcome of the Commission’s enquiries confirmed this main finding of our investigation.
However we believe the Commission has not taken sufficiently strong action against UK Toremet and there are still question marks over how effectively it is being scrutinised. Since the complaint against UK Toremet the charity has stopped public access on its website to the organisations it is helping in Israel, effectively preventing the general public from finding out what they are donating to.
However, a cursory internet search has found various organisations fundraising for equipment for the Israeli Defence Force during its current invasion of Gaza. These organisations have used UK Toremet to process their donations. One of these is One People (see attachment), set up after 7 October 2023, in its own words “to provide IDF soldiers and rapid response teams with the bulletproof vests, helmets and other lifesaving equipment”. The website openly lists UK Toremet as a partner organisation through which people can donate to One People. One People is working with Yashar Lachayal, about whom we raised concerns in out complaint of 2015. They also still state that funds can be donated to them via UK Toremet.
One People is also listed by Yad L’Olim, a non profit organisation in Israel, as a conduit for funds to Israeli soldiers and their units, supplying soldiers with helmets, vests, armour, tactical glasses, knee pads and tactical gloves.
Gush Etzion is another Israeli organisation that uses UK Toremet to channel funds from donors in the UK. It exists to serve settlers in the illegal cluster of settlements of the same name in the West Bank. Its website also states that it provides soldiers from the settlements serving in the IDF with “essential provisions such as soap, shampoo, blankets, as well as vital equipment including first aid kits.” On this page they further state they have acquired ‘over 250 tactical helmets, 130 high-powerd flashlights, 80 ceramic vests, 70 headlamps, and night vision apparatus to enhance their capabilities.’
KEHgives (Kehillat Eretz Hemdah) is yet another Israeli organisation that services Israeli military forces with funds raised through UK Toremet. Its website states:
“While the IDF provides core equipment there are many things that can make the life of a combat soldier in the field more comfortable and effective: gloves, thermal clothing, battery packs, and personal hygiene products, just to name just a few.”
The video on their YouTube channel and on their causematch page, where UK Toremet is listed directly underneath, boasts of providing equipment to the IDF and shows various IDF units thanking them for their donations.[letter continues after video]
It openly boasts about sending millions of dollars of military equipment to Israeli soldiers in the field since 7 October 2023. There are other examples that can be raised, we have highlighted these few, as even one, we believe is enough for the Charity Commission to take action.
The supply of military equipment to a state army that is currently on trial for genocide in the International Court of Justice barely meets the threshold of what is legal, let alone what can be considered a charitable purpose. It is a flagrant abuse of charity status to carry out activities that are not only legally dubious but potentially criminal. It is particularly galling that the Charity Commission has used negative media coverage of charities, and on occasion people who have nothing to do with registered charities as route to investigate and even sanction charities on the basis of ‘reputational damage’, yet have taken no action on charities clearly supporting the armed forces of Israel repeatedly accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity and currently accused of genocide.
In recent years we have seen the Commission coming down hard on Muslim organisations accused of infractions of charity regulations. Even when the infractions have been minor or the complaints dubious the Commission has brought down the full weight of its powers on the charities concerned. In contrast, your actions in respect of complaints against pro-Israel charities seem to lack any bite. This double standard has allowed them to continue to act openly and with apparent impunity.
We would expect you to launch an immediate investigation into the continued relationship between UK Toremet and the Israeli armed forces with a view to putting a halt to activities that appear to be a clear breach of charities regulations.