Palestinian father tells president-elect of his son’s unjust incarceration
Congratulations on your successful election as the 46th president of the United States of America.
My best wishes to you and your team as we all join together in praying that your presidency will witness the end of the wave of hatred and lack of tolerance not only in America but throughout the world including our holy land.
I am writing to you as a father to a father. I know that you lost your dear so Beau and therefore I am certain you will understand my feelings towards my son who has been in an Israeli prison for nearly five years unjustly. My son an engineer Mohammad Khalil Al Halabi left his career to do what he has had a passion for all his life, humanitarian work. He was the director of the World Vision organization for Gaza and he spent all his time and energy helping the needy.
In the same way that you suffer for your son’s loss, I and his family agonize for my innocent son being in jail unjustly. He has attended 151 court sessions without any proof being presented for the accusation against him of diverting donor money to the Hamas movement. He was tortured and abused as they tried to make him confess to a crime he didn’t commit. They offered him plea bargains to be released if he would admit guilt and he refused. Australia which funded the humanitarian program he managed sent a team of investigators who went through all the financial documentations and found no proof of any wrongdoing. An international audit firm also scrutinized all the finances he managed and gave him a clean bill.
My son’s tireless humanitarian effort won him recognition by the UN as a Humanitarian Hero. Members of parliament from all backgrounds and religions who knew my son have vouched publicly for him. International organizations have called for his immediate release, yet the Israelis have stubbornly held him without bail fearing the embarrassment that his release would have on them.
I am writing to you after having written to former US president Jimmy Carter whom I met in my work with the UNRWA agency. I also wrote to the secretary general of the UN and the Israeli president. Media outlets from around the world including Israel have also written about the travesty of holding my son in jail without a shred of facts to back their decision. You surely know what it means of having accusations leveled without facts.
My son’s ‘crime’ is that he distributed humanitarian aid to the needy without discrimination, the same way all aid agencies, including USAID, do. In his youth, my son was supportive of the Fatah movement and he has always been a man of peace.
I know it will be a few months before you take office, but I wanted to both congratulate you and present the case of my son to you. I am certain that as a father and a man of faith that abhors injustice you will do what you can to help.
Khalil El Halabi