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Friday, March 31, 2023

Israel blames director of Gaza aid group

BEERSHEBA, Israel ( Associated Press) — An Israeli court on Wednesday indicted a Gaza aid worker on multiple terrorism charges in a high-profile case in which his employer, independent auditors and the Australian government said he had no evidence of misconduct. Evidence not found.

Mohamed al-Halabi, the Gaza director of Christian charity World Vision, was arrested in 2016 and charged with giving tens of millions of dollars to the Islamic extremist group Hamas, which rules the Strip. The trial and his prolonged detention have strained relations between Israel and humanitarian organizations that provide aid to Palestinians.

Al-Halabi and World Vision have both denied the allegations, and an independent audit in 2017 found no evidence of support for Hamas. His lawyer, Maher Hanna, said al-Halabi turned down several prosecutors’ offers that would have allowed him to go free.

Al-Halabi has not been sentenced. World Vision said it would appeal the decision, which was based largely on classified information that was shared only with the defense.

A court in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba said al-Halabi was guilty of a number of charges, including membership in a terrorist organization, providing information to a terrorist group, participating in an extremist exercise and carrying a weapon.

He said he gave “millions” of dollars and equipment to Hamas from World Vision and its donors. He said Hamas used the money to fund extremist activities as well as medicine, food and Quran memorization competitions for children. The court said the pipes and nylon sent to Hamas were used for military purposes.

The court said it was not convinced by World Vision’s testimony that it had strong controls that could prevent such deviations. He said the 254-page judgment is confidential and cannot be published.

The ruling appears to have relied largely on a confession by al-Halabi provided by an informant and which has not been released. His counsel said that the confession was given under coercion and it should not have been accepted in evidence.

World Nation News Desk
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