Human Rights Watch Calls for Release of Gaza Humanitarian Worker Mohammad al-Halabi

Mohammed al-Halabi, World Vision’s Operations Manager in the Gaza Strip. (Photo: Family Album, Supplied)

Human Rights Watch urged on Monday Israeli authorities to immediately release Mohammad al-Halabi, a humanitarian worker from Gaza detained for nearly six years, the official Palestinian news agency WAFA reported.

Last February, the Israeli Supreme Court renewed al-Halabi’s detention for 90 days for the 23rd time.

Israeli prosecutors have charged al-Halabi, the 45-year-old head of the Gaza office of the Christian charity World Vision, with diverting tens of millions of dollars to Palestinian armed groups.

But after more than 160 hearings, the Israeli court has yet to convict him. The trial has been marred by severe due process violations, including keeping secret much of the supposed evidence against him. Audits by donor governments and independent firms World Vision hired have found no wrongdoing.

“It makes a mockery of due process and the most basic fair trial notions to hold someone for nearly six years in pretrial detention based largely on secret evidence,” said Omar Shakir, Israel and Palestine director at Human Rights Watch. “

The Israeli Supreme Court’s 23 renewals of al-Halabi’s detention are yet another marker of how they all too often rubber-stamp government policy that tramples on Palestinians’ rights.”

Because al-Halabi’s prolonged detention before and during proceedings so grossly violates the guarantees under international human rights law to a trial “within a reasonable time,” he should be immediately released, Human Rights Watch said.

Israeli authorities arrested al-Halabi, a father of five, in June 2016 at the Erez Crossing between Gaza and Israel, as he was returning from a meeting at World Vision’s office in Jerusalem. Al-Halabi’s whereabouts were not revealed for weeks.

(WAFA, PC, Social Media)

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