Israeli court sentences Palestinian aid worker to 12 yrs in jail
Tel Aviv: An Israeli court has sentenced a Palestinian employee of the World Vision aid organization to 12 years in prison.
Time already served should be deducted, the district court in Beersheva ruled on Tuesday.
Mohammed el-Halabi has been in prison for six years and was also sentenced to an additional 18 months of probation, reports dpa news agency.
The court found el-Halabi guilty in June because he had sent aid money to Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip.
He was also found guilty of other charges, including membership in a terrorist organization and illegal possession of weapons.
Israel arrested el-Halabi in June 2016. He was accused of diverting millions in aid to the Hamas organization.
In court, however, he pleaded not guilty to all counts.
According to media reports, his lawyer wants to appeal the verdict.
After the arrest, World Vision stopped working in the Gaza Strip and 120 employees were laid off.
In the previous 10 years, the Christian organisation said it had invested around 20 million euros in more than 50 projects along the coast.
Among other things, it provided food parcels, psychological assistance and support for pregnant women.
Germany and Australia stopped their payments to World Vision in Gaza in the face of the allegations. However, an external investigation commissioned by the aid organization did not reveal any irregularities.
The Islamist Hamas seized power in the Gaza Strip by force in 2007.
It is classified as a terrorist organization by the US, the EU and Israel.
Some 2 million people live in precarious conditions in the blocked coastal area.