Israeli court sentences Gaza aid worker to 12 years in prison

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    An Israeli court has given a Palestinian humanitarian worker a 12-year prison term after finding him guilty of transferring money to the extremist organisation Hamas.

    Mohammed Halabi, the director of World Vision’s Gaza office, was found guilty of 13 crimes in June, including belonging to a terrorist group.

    Since his arrest in 2016, he has consistently refuted all accusations, and he intends to appeal.

    Detaining Halabi for an additional six years was deemed “cruel and barbaric” by Human Rights Watch, which also denounced the “deep miscarriage of justice” that occurred.

    The 44-year-old was charged with stealing millions of dollars in aid intended for Hamas, which Israel and the West consider a terrorist organisation, as well as iron, plastic tubing, and digging equipment so that the organisation might erect attack tunnels across international borders.

    An important part of the case against him was a confession he gave to a fellow prisoner who was acting as an informant. Halabi said that physical violence was used to compel the confession. The judges, however, stated that they did not trust him and believed that the confession was not likely to have been made up.

    Reporters were informed by Moran Guez of the Southern District Attorney’s Office that the prosecution thought the sentence was excessively mild for the “extremely harsh deeds” and that an appeal was being considered.

    World Vision said that the legal system had been flawed and that there was a dearth of substantial, readily accessible evidence. Additionally, it was mentioned that neither a government inquiry by donors nor an independent audit had turned up any proof of missing money or illegal activity.

    The Christian nonprofit organisation issued a Tuesday warning, saying, “The arrest, six-year trial, unfair decision, and severe sentence are symbolic of activities that impede humanitarian work in Gaza and the West Bank.”

    It has a particularly chilling effect on World Vision and other charities or development organisations that support Palestinians.

    The Associated Press was informed by Israel’s foreign ministry that it will keep preventing “any diversion of humanitarian cash for terrorist purposes.” In accordance with security concerns, it was further stated that the nation was dedicated to working with relief organisations and facilitating their operations.