JERUSALEM, Saturday, January 15, 2022 (WAFA) – The international Christian relief and development organization, World Vision, said that after carrying out its own investigation into Israeli allegations that its imprisoned Gaza office director, Mohammad El Halabi, is involved in so-called terrorist activities, it found out that these allegations are unfounded and that Halabi is innocent of all charges.
It said in a statement that when Halabi was publicly charged in August 2016 by Israel, “we suspended our work in Gaza because the alleged actions completely go against our values and mission.”
Following these allegations, World Vision decided to itself examine any evidence of such charges and commissioned an independent external forensic investigation, in cooperation with its donor governments.
“We have been closely following Mohammad’s lengthy trial. Many of our staff have participated as witnesses, and our staff, often alongside representatives from other organizations, have been present as observers in every public trial session. After five years of trial proceedings, which have now concluded as we await a verdict, we have not seen anything that makes us question our conclusion that Mohammad is innocent of all the charges. Moreover, Mohammad so steadfastly asserts his innocence that he has consistently refused any plea agreement, even when the sentences offered reportedly would have had him free by now,” said the international organization.
“This process has had a dramatic and negative effect on children and their families in Gaza, including Mohammad’s own family. We expect and pray that it will be resolved soon and fairly with an acquittal.”
Halabi, the manager of operations for World Vision in Gaza, was arrested on 15 June 2016, during one of his travels between Gaza and Jerusalem, and was later charged with providing financial support to Hamas. He has been on trial since then.
Israel has been targeting Palestinian civil society organizations and their staff, including Halabi, in order to discredit and defund them to stop their development and human rights work with the Palestinians. It recently designated six prominent Palestinian civil society and human rights organizations operating from Ramallah as “terrorist organizations”, threatening to arrest anyone working for them.