Release Gaza’s innocent humanitarian hero Mohammad al Halabi

In addition to the UN’s humanitarian award, Mohammad Al-Halabi was given the “humanitarian of the year” award from the international World Vision organization.

PALESTINIANS LINE wait to receive food aid from an UNWRA distribution center in the Khan Yunis refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip in March. (photo credit: FADI FAHD/FLASH90)
PALESTINIANS LINE wait to receive food aid from an UNWRA distribution center in the Khan Yunis refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip in March.
(photo credit: FADI FAHD/FLASH90)
I never expected that my eldest son, Mohammad Al Halabi, would ever be held in an Israeli jail. Ever since he was young, I raised my son to be a humanitarian. I planted in him the seeds of tolerance and accepting the other. I taught him and his siblings that violence doesn’t build nations, and that respect of the other builds up people and countries. I also encouraged him to be excellent in his studies and he was an exceptionally accomplished student.
Whenever I would sit with him, I often shared with him stories about the importance of human values and how we need to help people regardless of their religion, nationality or political background. I always said we need to help people in need without asking questions.
Mohammad’s character developed over the years based on these values, and I was extremely happy to notice how the term humanity became part of his vocabulary in life.
Days and years passed and my son received a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering, but he told me he wanted to study nursing. I asked him why. He said it was a profession in which one can make a humanitarian contribution. I told him that anything he does will make have a humanitarian input because your humanity will be reflected in your work.
Fate had it that he got a job in a humanitarian organization, World Vision, which was working in Gaza. He was appointed based on his merit by international directors who interviewed him.
Mohammad used the humanitarian values he had been brought up on to work with cancer patients and to provide emotional support to children, farmers and others in Gaza. He enjoyed his job and found himself in it, and his humanity was reflected with all those he worked with.
He was insistent to help everyone in Gaza who was in need, regardless of religion or nationality. He once told me that he was willing to help anyone, including Israeli families, if they needed help and he could help them.
THIS IS WHY I never expected that his humanity, which led to him being awarded the humanitarian hero award by the UN in 2014, would land him in jail.
My son is accused – without proof – of funneling millions in World Vision aid funds for Hamas to build tunnels. In fact, the amounts my son is wrongfully accused using of are more than the entire budget of World Vision for Gaza and the West Bank. International auditors have scrapped all the books and found nothing of the sort.
After four years in prison and 144 sessions in Israeli military courts, no evidence has been presented to justify this unjust detention. Needy Gaza families under siege have been denied the humanitarian aid that my innocent son working with World Vision was making available, ensuring that their needs were met.
My son Mohammad visited Australia before his arrest and he engaged with parliamentarians there, including Jewish MPs. Since his arrest, they have expressed regret at his imprisonment because they knew about his humanitarian efforts. They have sent letters of solidarity to his family. We have received similar letters from the US, Germany and Cyprus, all supporting my son and his family.
This is the Mohammad al-Halabi, the humanitarian hero, who has been jailed. As a result, cancer patients and their families in Gaza have suffered even more. Israel might be trying my son for his work with the people of Gaza, but the world knows he is innocent and we are all waiting to see if the Israel courts will repair this injustice in this case.
They want him to confess to things he has not committed and he says he will not accuse himself of things he has not done.
In addition to the UN’s humanitarian award, Mohammad Al-Halabi was given the “humanitarian of the year” award from the international World Vision organization.
I have no regrets about raising my son to be a humanitarian and will I proudly plead for his release because he is innocent. The Israeli District Court will convene again Wednesday to determine the fate of my humanitarian son who has done nothing wrong and has been a genuine humanitarian. May justice and humanity win the day.

The writer lives in Gaza.