Verdict Nears for Palestinian Accused of Diverting World Vision Funds

Mohammad el-Halabi has refused plea deals that would “pollute” the image of Christian aid organization, lawyer says.

Mohammad el-Halabi believes the truth will set him free.

The former Gaza director of World Vision has now spent more than half a decade in prison, and according to his lawyer, the Israeli government has offered him plea deal after plea deal. He could potentially go home if he would only confess that funding for the Christian humanitarian aid organization was diverted to support terrorism.

But Halabi has refused.

“He is saying he will not admit to things he never did,” Maher Hanna, who represents Halabi, told CT. “He will not pollute the image of World Vision just to get a personal discount and go home to be with his children.”

Hanna, himself a Christian, said this is one of the remarkable things about this case that has not been noted in the international headlines: A Muslim man who worked for a Christian organization is refusing, under severe pressure and at great personal risk, to betray one of the largest evangelical charities in the world and harm its future work.

“We should admire that position that Muhammad is taking for himself. It’s a high Christian value,” Hanna said.

Close observers and insiders say Halabi’s trial looks like it will conclude this fall. The Israeli court could reach a verdict as early as this month.

The case has been making its way through the Israeli justice system—tediously and obscurely—since Halabi was arrested by the state security service while attempting to pass through the Erez checkpoint between Gaza and Israel on June 15, 2016.

Halabi was subsequently accused of using his position with World Vision to aid Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist militant group that has governed Gaza since 2007. Israeli officials allege he was diverting funds meant …

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