Israeli court remands World Vision Gaza's head after five years in jail

Israeli court remands World Vision Gaza's head after five years in jail
An Israeli court has remanded Mohammad El Halabi, the former head of Gaza’s World Vision office accused of funding Hamas
2 min read
16 November, 2021
Mohammad El Halabi maintains his innocence [Getty]

An Israeli court has remanded the former head of Gaza's World Vision office, Mohammad El Halabi, in another apparent attempt to pressure him to confess accusations against him.

El Halabi, 42, was detained and interrogated in 2016 by the Israeli authorities, who accused him of stealing money from global charity World Vision's Gaza branch to funnel money to Hamas.

El Halabi has consistently denied the accusations throughout his 167 court hearings and five years in detention.

UN experts called in November 2020 for El Halabi to be released or given a fair trial.

Israel hopes that in time and under duress, the father of five will confess under pressure, activists say.

World Vision, a global Christian humanitarian organisation, carried out their own external investigation soon after the Israeli allegations surfaced, saying there was no evidence against Halabi.

"In response to the charges against Mohammad, World Vision suspended our work in Gaza and commissioned an externally-conducted forensic investigation. The investigation, completed in July of 2017, found no evidence of diversion of funds and no material evidence that El Halabi was part of or working for Hamas", the organisation said on their website in response.

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"World Vision condemns any diversion of aid funding and strongly condemns any act of terrorism or support for those activities."

Founded in 1950, World Vision has worked with Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip since 1975.

The charity has recently carried out extensive work in Gaza, including rehabilitating large tracts of agricultural land, building greenhouses, irrigation and water wells.

It has also provided equipment to Gazan fishermen whose livelihoods have been severely disrupted by Israeli measures.