Jerusalem24–The Beersheba District Court convicted 44-year-old Mohammad Al-Halabi, an NGO worker from the Gaza Strip accused by Israel of transferring millions of dollars to Hamas, on several “security” charges yesterday.
The charges include “communicating with a foreign agent, affiliation with Hamas, transferring information, and possessing weapons.” The court decided to acquit Halabi of the charge of “assisting Hamas during the war with Israel.”
The court claimed that “Al-Halabi confessed to the charges against him during his interrogation by the General Security Service (Shin Bet), where he reviewed the comprehensive assistance he provided to Hamas and how he concealed his activities, and the discussion revolves around credible confessions that are impossible to fabricate by the General Security or to be false confessions.”
According to Palestinian media in Israel, the court rejected testimonies that defended Al-Halabi, including those by employees of the World Vision organization that employs him and who denied Al-Halabi’s involvement in the charges against him.
Both Al-Halabi and the charitable organization have denied any wrongdoing since Al-Halabi’s arrest in 2016. An independent review in 2017 also found no evidence that Al-Halabi supported Hamas.
The Commission of Detainees and Ex-Prisoners Affairs called on the international community “with all its institutions to exert their efforts and stop the judicial farce” that Al-Halabi is being subjected to, which includes 169 court sessions, “without being charged with any real charges that warrant dealing with him in this way of retaliation.”
The European Union affirmed that what Al-Halabi is experiencing in Israel’s judicial system “contradicts international fair trial standards.”
1/2 EU 🇪🇺diplomats and representatives from like-minded countries attended today’s verdict in the case of Mohammed Halabi which followed 171 court hearings and 24 detention extensions since 2016. pic.twitter.com/Ad1aO1xPOG
— EU and Palestinians (@EUpalestinians) June 15, 2022
Meanwhile, World Vision, the Australian humanitarian organization that Halabi works for, stated on their website:
“World Vision acknowledges with disappointment the decision issued by the Beersheva District Court convicting Mr. Mohammad El Halabi. We have previously expressed our significant concerns about this case, as noted in our prior statements (see below). In our view, there have been irregularities in the trial process and a lack of substantive, publicly available evidence. We support Mohammad’s intent to appeal the decision and call for a fair and transparent appeal process based on the facts of the case. As followers of Jesus Christ, World Vision is accountable to the children and families we serve, to our donors, and most of all to God to be faithful stewards. We strongly condemn any act of terrorism or support for such activities, and reject any attempt to divert humanitarian resources or exploit the work of humanitarian organisations operating anywhere. We are saddened that our work helping Gaza’s most vulnerable children has been disrupted for so long, and we hope to return to Gaza. We remain committed to improving the lives of vulnerable children in the region, and hope we will be able to advance our humanitarian work in the context of our longstanding cooperation with the relevant Israeli and Palestinian authorities.”
Al-Halabi is the former director of the office of the World Vision Foundation in the Gaza Strip. He was arrested in 2016, and according to several organizations was subjected to harsh investigation tactics that included torture. He refused to confess to the charges against him. He is married and a father of five.