NewsMiddle EastIsraeli court sentences former World Vision worker to 12 years in prison for diverting funds to Hamas

Israeli court sentences former World Vision worker to 12 years in prison for diverting funds to Hamas

Protest to demand justice in the case of Mohamed El Halabi – ASHRAF AMRA / ZUMA PRESS / CONTACTOPHOTO

An Israeli court has sentenced Mohamed el Halabi, a former Palestinian worker for the NGO World Vision in the Gaza Strip, to twelve years in prison for allegedly diverting millions of euros to the Hamas militia party, which controls the coastal territory and is listed as terrorist by the Israeli authorities.

The district court of the southern city of Beersheba has concluded that the confession he made at the headquarters of the Shin Bet – the Internal Intelligence and General Security services – was “coherent, specific and included details” that could not have been invented , according to the newspaper ‘The Jerusalem Post’.

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The Israeli justice has determined that there is additional documentary evidence, while arguing that El Halabi was recruited by the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) to infiltrate the NGO and be an undercover agent.

For this reason, the Israeli court has specified that, throughout his employment at World Vision, he met with Hamas military operatives to keep up to date with their activities. After knowing the sentence, El Halabi’s lawyer, Maher Hana, has said that he will appeal the decision of the courts before the Supreme Court.

The defendant was arrested in June 2016 for a battery of charges that also included belonging to a terrorist organization or illegal possession of weapons. Until the confirmation of his verdict, his imprisonment had been extended more than 20 times.

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World Vision said in a statement Tuesday that the ruling is “deeply disappointing and stands in stark contrast to the evidence and facts of the case.” “World Vision emphatically condemns any and all acts of terrorism or support for such activities,” he added.

For this reason, they have rejected “any attempt to divert humanitarian resources or exploit the work of aid organizations operating anywhere”, while pointing out that there is “no evidence of these things in this case”

“We support Mohamed’s intention to appeal the verdict and sentence and call for a fair and transparent appeal process based on the facts of the case,” he said, adding that his arrest, six-year trial, “unfair” verdict and the sentence are actions “emblematic” of the actions that hinder humanitarian work in Gaza and the West Bank.

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“We are saddened that our work to help the most vulnerable children in Gaza has been interrupted for so long and we look forward to returning. We remain committed to improving the lives of vulnerable children in the region and look forward to advancing our work in the context of our long-standing cooperation with the relevant Israeli and Palestinian authorities,” he concluded.

Source: Europa Press


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