Israeli court sentences World Vision aid worker to 12 years in prison

Gaza man who funneled money from Christian charity to Hamas terror organization sentenced by Israeli court to 12 years in prison.

By World Israel News Staff

A Gaza man who funneled millions of dollars in aid money to the Hamas terrorist organization was sentenced to 12 years in prison Tuesday.

Mohammad El Halabi, manager of Gaza operations for the World Vision charity, was sentenced at the Beersheba District Court in southern Israel Tuesday morning, more than two months after the court convicted him on terror financing charges.

El Halabi faced a maximum sentence of over 20 years in prison, but will now serve roughly six years, having already been incarcerated during his trial for the past six years.

During his tenure at the helm of World Vision’s Gaza relief work operations, Israeli investigators said, a massive $49-million disparity opened between the U.S. based organization’s funding for the Gaza branch and the receipts posted by the program.

Israel’s Shin Bet security agency later found evidence El Halabi had diverted the funds and materials, which were earmarked for relief efforts and aid for reconstruction in Gaza, to Hamas.

The Gaza-based terror group in turn used the money to acquire weapons. Equipment and raw materials funneled to Hamas were used to construct tunnels in the coastal enclave.

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In their verdict in June, the judges wrote that while they accepted World Vision’s claim that it believes El Halabi to be innocent, it is clear he met repeatedly with Hamas terrorists during his employment with World Vision and that he discussed their needs during the meetings.

The court also wrote that El Halabi visited Hamas terror tunnels on multiple occasions, with at least two such visits in 2012. In one such instance, El Halabi gave a Hamas terrorist $20,000 to repair flood damage the tunnel had sustained.

While El Halabi confessed to Israeli investigators, his attorney, Maher Hana, claimed the confession had been forced and vowed to appeal the conviction to the Supreme Court.

The Beersheba court did acquit El Halabi of one charge from the indictment – aiding an enemy power – noting that El Halabi is a resident of the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip and does not carry Israeli citizenship.