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UN envoy protests continued detention of Gazan aid worker accused of helping Hamas

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US correspondent based in New York

Deputy Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Lynn Hastings has condemned an Israeli court’s order that a Gazan humanitarian worker who has been on trial for years remain behind bars for another 45 days at least.

Courts have repeatedly extended Muhammad Halabi’s detention since his initial arrest in 2016, on charges he funneled approximately $7 million in annual aid to Gaza’s Hamas rulers.

The allegations against Halabi, who managed the Gaza office of the World Vision Christian aid group, have been subject to significant speculation and plagued by mysterious delays.

Halabi’s backers say $7 million is more than three times the annual budget for the World Vision Gaza office. Prosecutors have also provided minimal concrete evidence throughout the proceedings since Halabi’s widely publicized indictment in August 2016.

The Justice Ministry has declined to provide a justification for the lengthy detention, saying the case is classified.

Palestinian children hold posters of Mohammed Halabi, the Gaza director of World Vision, a major US-based Christian NGO, during a protest to support him at Rafah town in the southern Gaza Strip on August 29, 2016. (AFP/ SAID KHATIB)

“According to Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, minimum guarantees of a fair trial include the right to be tried without undue delay,” tweets Hastings.

Halabi’s drawn-out trial has also garnered the attention of the Biden administration, and diplomats from the US embassy in Jerusalem have attended several of the hearings.

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