Israel’s kangaroo court jails Palestinian charity worker for 12 years

Palestinian aid worker Mohammed El Halabi is yet another political prisoner in Israel’s apartheid dungeons. (WAFA/El Halabi family campaign)

On Tuesday Israel sentenced Palestinian aid worked Mohammed El Halabi to 12 years in prison — based on a sham conviction in a kangaroo court which relied on entirely fictional charges.

Former director of the Gaza operation of international Christian charity World Vision, El Halabi is a victim of a fit-up by Israel.

The Zionist regime is determined to eradicate not only all forms of Palestinian resistance (both peaceful and armed) but all forms of Palestinian life.

In an extraordinary step, Israel’s kangaroo court in June convicted El Halabi, yet kept its ruling a secret from the public, decreeing that the 254-page document would be designated “classified.” As El Halabi’s lawyer told reporters as the time, the only reason Israel has kept it a secret is to hide the state’s embarrassment at the sheer shoddiness of its “case” against El Halabi.

Aside from secret “evidence” provided by Israel’s secret police, the Shin Bet, the Israeli verdict reportedly relied almost entirely on a forced confession allegedly made (and later withdrawn) by El Halabi, only after he was tortured in Israeli detention (a habitual practice of Israel’s racist criminal “justice” system when it comes to Palestinian detainees).

Such bogus confessions are often extracted by Israel through the use of both torture and the false testimony of Palestinian collaborators inside Israeli jails (often either criminal elements or acting under duress themselves — sometimes both).

“The arrest, six-year trial, unjust verdict and this sentence are emblematic of actions that hinder humanitarian work in Gaza and the West Bank,” World Vision said on Tuesday. “It adds to the chilling impact on World Vision and other aid or development groups working to assist Palestinians.”

When El Halabi was first arrested way back in June 2016, he was denied access to a lawyer for 50 days. Israel put extraordinary pressure on the man for years to take a plea deal and confess to something he hadn’t done: diverting charity funds to armed Palestinian resistance groups.

El Halabi always refused, because he knew such a bogus admission on his behalf would be used by Israel to stamp out all charity and aid work in Gaza.

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Over the course of six years and an extraordinary number of trials and hearings — more than 160 — El Halabi constantly maintained his innocence.

Human Rights Watch spokesperson Omar Shakir on Tuesday called the sentencing a “miscarriage of justice.”

But in fact it is just a sign of much deeper problems with the Israeli “justice” system, which is in actual fact a racist kangaroo court system deliberately designed to oppress Palestinians and maintain Zionism’s system of Jewish supremacy and domination over the indigenous people of the land of Palestine.

What Israel alleged against El Halabi was always transparently bogus: that he was funnelling millions in World Vision funding away from the charity and into Hamas, Palestine’s Islamic resistance movement. In fact, World Vision investigations showed that El Halabi actually made particular efforts to keep the charity independent of Hamas, whose political wing rules the internal government of the Gaza Strip.

Israeli spooks did not even bother to fabricate their “case” against El Halabi in a remotely convincing manner. They laughably claimed that El Halabi had funnelled $50 million to Hamas over a period of years.

But it turned out that that figure was more than twice as much as the entire budget of World Vision in Gaza over the period in question. The allegations were transparent lies all along.

Yet World Vision was still extra cautious (overly cautious in my view). They immediately suspended all operations in Gaza, and commissioned an exhaustive audit by financial services firm Deloitte. The audit (at what must have been massive expense) reviewed every payment made by World Vision over the course of five years — it found precisely zero evidence of Israel’s claims.

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World Vision’s own internal investigations also entirely exonerated El Halabi — as did an investigation by the government of Australia (a major donor to World Vision).

Yet despite every credible human rights group in the world condemning the sham trial against the charity worker, the US, the EU and other Western governments continue to pour in diplomatic, military and financial aid to Israel — the racist, criminal aggressor.

El Halabi will now take an appeal to Israel’s high court. We should not get our hopes up: unless Israel is made to feel external pressure, the high court trial is likely to be just as much of a sham as the lower court was.

The sad reality of Israel’s persecution of Mohammed El Halabi is that this is just the latest measure by the Zionist regime to extinguish all forms of Palestinian existence.

We must not allow them to succeed.


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