DAYS OF PALESTINE – Biden administration is “closely monitoring” Israel’s ongoing detention and trial of a Gazan humanitarian worker arrested in 2016, according to an email the US Embassy in Jerusalem sent the suspect’s father last week.
Muhammad Halabi, who managed the Gaza office of the World Vision Christian aid group arrested in 2016 while traveling through the Erez Crossing. The Israeli Occupation has declined to provide a justification for the lengthy detention, saying the case is classified.
In the meantime, Halabi’s father Khalil reached out to the Biden administration, asking for Washington to intervene on his son’s behalf.
Last week, a representative from the Palestinian Affairs Unit of the US Embassy in Jerusalem wrote back to Khalil saying the administration is aware of his son’s case and even highlighted it the State Department’s annual Country Report on Human Rights Practices.
“Officers at the Embassy have closely monitored his case and have previously been in touch with World Vision and Mohammad’s attorney to learn more about his detention and court case,” the embassy diplomat said in the email viewed by The Times of Israel. “We’ve also been in touch with the Israeli authorities to express our concerns over the impact his case has had on the shrinking humanitarian space in Gaza.”
“We will continue to monitor the case closely and raise our concerns with the appropriate officials,” the US official said.
Khalil Halabi told ToI he contacted the US embassy because World Vision has a major hub in the US and he believed that US President Joe Biden’s stated commitment to human rights would compel him to act on his son’s behalf. “I am sure that the Americans will not be silent as a [humanitarian worker] is unjustly charged based on fabricated charges,” he said.
Audits performed by World Vision along with Germany, Australia and the US Agency for International Development, which separately sponsors the aid group’s work, all concluded that there were no irregularities in the Gaza office’s finances.