A senior Gaza-based employee of US-headquartered charity World Vision appeared in an Israeli court on Tuesday, charged with numerous counts of ‘supporting terrorism’.
According to the Israel Security Agency (ISA or Shin Bet), Mohammad al-Halabi infiltrated the charity on behalf of Hamas, redirecting tens of millions of dollars to Al-Qassam Brigades over many years.
But to the consternation of Halabi’s lawyer, family, and colleagues, as well as diplomats and human rights workers, the trial – which reconvenes in October – is being conducted entirely in secret. Read more
In recent years, Israel’s military court system has been the subject of well-deserved – and long over-due – scrutiny, thanks to its almost 100 percent conviction rate of Palestinians in the West Bank. The military courts are a key part of an apartheid regime that sees Israeli settlers tried in civilian courts, while Palestinians – including hundreds of children per year – are subjected to military show-trials.
But what about Israel’s civilian courts? Comparatively little attention has been paid by human rights groups to the plight of Palestinians tried for ‘security offenses’ in Israeli courts, which includes Palestinians with Israeli citizenship, and, since the 2005 ‘disengagement’, Gaza residents. Read more
In recent days, Israeli authorities have announced charges against two, Gaza-based employees of international NGOs – one from World Vision, one from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Each individual faces accusations of varying degrees of assisting Hamas.
Many have expressed scepticism about the charges, particularly given the lack of due process. Mohammed Halabi, for example, was detained without charge for 50 days and alleges that he was tortured by Shin Bet officials during his interrogation. He was also denied access to a lawyer for three weeks. Read more