Mohammed El-Halabi is a Palestinian aid worker for World Vision International. He is currently serving a 12-year prison sentence on charges related to terrorism.
In June 2016, El-Halabi was arrested by Israeli security forces at the Erez crossing between Israel and Gaza. He was held incommunicado for the first week of his detention. During this time, he was interrogated and reportedly beaten severely. Seven weeks after his arrest, El-Halabi was charged with membership in a terrorist organization, funding a terrorist organization, and using funds to further terrorism.
The government alleged that El-Halabi diverted over $50 million in World Vision funds to Hamas. The government’s allegations are facially implausible, as its claim that El-Halabi diverted $50 million far exceeded the operating budget of World Vision in Gaza for the decade preceding his arrest. Furthermore, separate investigations by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and forensic auditors both found no evidence of the government’s claims, and the forensic auditors also found that El-Halabi was actively working to ensure that funds did not end up in Hamas’ possession.
El-Halabi’s trial, which spanned the six years following his arrest, was rife with procedural irregularities, including holding secret hearings, the admission of secret evidence, restricted communication with his lawyer, interference with his lawyer’s ability to prepare a defense, and a failure to try him without undue delay. While in pre-trial detention, El-Halabi was repeatedly held in solitary confinement and subjected to beatings which resulted in a loss of hearing in one ear.
On June 15, 2022, El-Halabi was convicted on several counts of financing terrorist activities and membership in a terrorist organization, and in the following August, he was sentenced to 12 years in prison. El-Halabi’s case is currently on appeal before the Supreme Court of Israel. The appeal hearings on the case have been repeatedly postponed due to authorities’ refusal to provide defense counsel access to the necessary casefiles.
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