An Israeli court on Tuesday sentenced the director of a major international aid group to 12 years in prison for funneling funds to the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas).
The Beersheba District Court in southern Israel sentenced Mohammad El Halabi, head of the Gaza office of the U.S.-based Christian charity World Vision to “12 years’ prison time, less the six years he already served in detention.”
The court also sentenced Mr El Halabi, who was held in detention for the past six years amid his prolonged trial, and additional 18 months of probation.
The sentence followed his conviction in June, in which the court found him guilty of transferring “tens of millions of shekels” (1 shekel equals 0.30 U.S. dollar) and “tonnes of iron” to Hamas.
Mr El Halabi, 45, has denied all allegations.
World Vision issued a statement on Tuesday, saying the sentence “is deeply disappointing and in sharp contrast to the evidence and facts of the case.”
“The arrest, six-year trial, unjust verdict and this sentence are emblematic of actions that hinder humanitarian work in Gaza and the West Bank.
“It adds to the chilling impact on World Vision and other aid or development groups working to assist Palestinians,” the statement read.
World Vision and other charity groups work in Gaza to help ease a crisis caused by the Israeli blockade imposed on the Palestinian enclave since 2007.