Thursday, November 23, 2017

Israel postpones the trial of Mohammed al-Halabi but no evidence for detention according to the NGO World Vision


By Editor - August 31, 2016
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Section: [Main News] [Features]
Tags: [Gaza] [Hamas] [Israeli Justice System] [UN]

An elementary session of the trial for the Christian charity World Vision’s Head of Mission in Gaza, Mohammed al-Halabi, was held behind closed doors on Tuesday morning in Be’er Sheva, the southern city of Israel.

“Sorry, we are forbidden at this stage to talk about the case, to talk about the details of the case. Even to talk about about the evidence in the file.” Lea Tzemal told Palestine Monitor before entering the court.

Amnesty International condemns this “secret trial”. For Magdalena Mughrabi, Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International, “The allegation of stealing money intended to help alleviate the humanitarian crisis in Gaza is extremely serious. This makes it all the more pressing to ensure that Mohammed al-Halabi’s rights are fully respected and that his trial be fair and transparent. Secret trials are the most flagrant violation of the right to a public hearing. Holding these court proceedings behind closed doors render any convictions obtained unsound.”

Mohammed al-Halabi, is facing 12 charges including being a member of a “terrorist organization” and siphoning off the charity’s funds for “terrorism” purposes. Israel's Shin Bet security agency said Mohammed al-Halabi siphoned about $7.2 million a year to the Islamic militant group over a period of five years. The security agency said this is roughly 60 percent of World Vision's total budget for Gaza.

Israel is confident going into the trial, as the Israeli Foriegn Ministry Spokesman ,Emmanuel Nahshlon, confirmed “I think that the facts are known and are really clear. These facts are based on documents. These documents are from World vision in fact, they are documents from the organization itself, they are documents from Mr. al-Halabi himself that demonstrates the way he used to embezzle money to buy weapons and build tunnels for the Hamas.”

Kevin Jenkins, President and Chief Executive Officer of World Vision International said in a statement that no evidence has been found that could uphold this charge. “World Vision’s cumulative operating budget in Gaza for the past ten years was approximately $22.5 million, which makes the alleged amount of up to $50 million being diverted hard to reconcile.”

Lea Tzemal, Mohammed Halabi’s lawer explained to Palestine Monitor “The organization have always supported him, and have confirmed all of his claims. The budget is much smaller then what Israel claims he embezzled”.
For the moment, the NGO has currently suspended all their projects in the Palestinian territories pending an internal review.

The World Vision case has not occurred in isolation. In the same week of al-Halabi, other NGOs were also in Israel’s firing line, as a Palestinian employee of Save the Children was also reportedly accused of being a Hamas member, and Waheed Borsh a Palestinian staff member of the UNDP has been accused of providing "material assistance" to Hamas.

Lea Tzemal who is also Waheed Borsh's lawyer explained this wave of arrests as deeply political. “The link is that Israel probably decided to launch attacks on humanitarian organisations that act in Gaza. So with one hand Israel is destroying Gaza and with another hand it does not enable proper rehabilitation of the strip.“

The court decided on Tuesday to postpone Mohammed al-Halab's trial until October. A few days earlier, it was also decided to delay Borsh’s trial to September 29.


Photo credit : (AFP Photo/Said Khatib)  


The organization have always supported him, and have confirmed all of his claims. The budget is much smaller then what Israel claims he embezzled.

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