UN says Gaza aid worker should be released from Israeli jail after 4 years
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UN says Gaza aid worker should be released from Israeli jail after 4 years

Mohammed el-Halabi, the former Gaza director of the World Vision charity, was arrested in 2016 and reportedly questioned by Shin Bet for 50 days without a lawyer

Protesters, one holding a Palestinian flag, stand in front of Israeli soldiers during a demonstration near the Gaza Strip border with Israel, in eastern Gaza City, Friday, March 30, 2018. (AP Photo/ Khalil Hamra)
Protesters, one holding a Palestinian flag, stand in front of Israeli soldiers during a demonstration near the Gaza Strip border with Israel, in eastern Gaza City, Friday, March 30, 2018. (AP Photo/ Khalil Hamra)

The United Nations has said a Gaza aid worker who has been held in an Israeli prison for more than four years should either be released or given a fair trial.

The case of Mohammed el-Halabi, the former Gaza director of the World Vision charity who was arrested in June 2016, escalated this week after the Office of the High Commissioner issued the declaration.

The UN said Israel’s internal security service, Shin Bet, questioned el-Halabi for 50 days after his arrest without allowing him access to a lawyer. El-Halabi says he was tortured, deprived of sleep, and hung from a ceiling during this time. Since his arrest he has attended court more than 140 times, all behind closed doors.

His lawyer said the Israeli prosecutor repeatedly offered him a plea deal, but he rejected it and maintained his innocence. Israeli authorities say he diverted millions of dollars in development funds to armed groups in Gaza, which he denies.

Four UN Special Rapporteurs have said el-Halabi’s arrest and interrogation “is not worthy of a democratic state,” adding that Israeli authorities “must grant him the full rights of a fair trial, or else release him unconditionally”.

They added: “What is happening to Mr el-Halabi bears no relation to the trial standards we expect from democracies and is part of a pattern where Israel uses secret evidence to indefinitely detain hundreds of Palestinians.”

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