Jerusalem24 – An Israeli court today sentenced Palestinian aid worker Mohammad Al-Halabi to 12 years in prison. The Israeli military prosecutor had requested 16.
44-year-old Al-Halabi was detained in 2016 and accused by Israel of transferring millions of dollars to Hamas. He was convicted in June on several security charges, including “communicating with a foreign agent, affiliation with Hamas, transferring information, and possessing weapons.”
Both Al-Halabi and his employer World Vision have denied wrongdoing since Al-Halabi’s arrest.
President of World Vision International Kevin Jenkins said in a statement that it was “hard to reconcile” the allegation that Al-Halabi had diverted $50 million to Hamas, because World Vision’s cumulative operating budget in Gaza over the past 10 years was only around $22.5 million.
An independent review and audit of the organization’s funding in 2017 (including by the Australian government, the largest single donor to Australia-based World Vision) found no evidence that Al-Halabi supported Hamas or that any funds had been diverted.
Al-Halabi has systematically refused to confess to any of the charges brought against him in exchange for his release. He has sat through 172 court sessions held over the course of six years.
Following Al-Halabi’s conviction in June, the European Union stated on 15 June his extended detention and conviction “contradicts international fair trial standards.”
Amnesty International has called on Israel to quash the conviction of what it said was “a deeply flawed trial.”
“Israeli authorities have utterly disregarded Mohammed Al-Halabi’s allegations that he was tortured and ill-treated in detention. Yesterday’s [15 June] verdict is unsafe and unjust, and simply serves to highlight how the Israeli justice system is rigged against Palestinians,” Amnesty said in a statement on 16 June.
AP quoted Al-Halabi’s lawyer, Maher Hanna, as saying the length of the sentence was “inconceivable”: “They insist that injustice will persist throughout the whole process.”