Middle East

UN condemns conviction of Gaza aid worker by Israel

UN human rights experts denounced Israel on Thursday for the conviction of a Gaza aid worker for “financing terrorism”, Anadolu News Agency reports.

The conviction of Mohammed El-Halabi, the former Program Director of World Vision’s Gaza office, was “a clear violation of Israel’s obligation” to respect the right to a fair trial, the UN experts said in a statement.

“Mr. El-Halabi’s trial demonstrated a serious disregard for fair trial guarantees, including the extensive use of secret evidence against him, restricted communication with his lawyer, inadequate time and obstacles posed for the preparation of his defence and the failure to try him without undue delay,” according to the statement.

Defining the “terrorism charges” as “baseless,” the experts also said the court’s decision shows “Israel’s egregious misuse” of counter-terrorism measures to suppress voices of human rights defenders.

El-Halabi was arrested in 2016 by Israel’s Shin Bet security service after being accused of diverting millions of dollars in humanitarian funds to armed groups in Gaza.

The Beersheba District Court convicted him on 15 June on 13 charges of terrorism, including “membership of a terrorist organisation” and “diverting humanitarian funds to finance terrorist activities.”

US-based World Vision, on several occasions, has rejected the accusation against El-Halabi and his arrest was met with an international outcry, especially from the European Union and the US, which were following his case.

READ: Israel’s World Vision crime sham

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