Palestinian Activist Jailed for Four Years by Israeli Court for ‘Spying’
A Palestinian charity worker who raised funds to help children in Gaza has been sentenced to four years in prison by an Israeli court on charges of spying and aiding Hamas.
Aya Khatib, 33, was convicted of “providing information with the aim of harming state security” and transferring money to the Palestinian movement that controls the besieged territory.
Khatib, who is from the town of Ar’arat an-Naqab in the Negev region, denied the accusations and said that her work was humanitarian and aimed at helping Palestinian children suffering from medical issues.
She said that she used Facebook to launch fundraising campaigns to pay for medical costs for treatment within occupied Palestinian lands for children unable to access care in Gaza, as well as for disadvantaged university students in the occupied West Bank.
“They [Israeli courts] will not be able to defeat or break us, they will not be able to change an ounce of our principles,” Khatib told local media after the sentencing on Tuesday.
“I hope that people will not be afraid and refrain from doing good deeds because of what is happening,” she added.
Khatib, a mother of two, was arrested in February 2020 and interrogated by Israeli intelligence officers before an indictment was submitted against her. The case was then referred to the Central Court in Haifa, where she was detained for three years before her sentencing.
Her lawyer, Mahmoud Hassan, said that the verdict was “unjust” and that he would appeal to the Supreme Court.
He said that Khatib was a well-known activist who had participated in many social and political events in support of the Palestinian cause.
He also said that the evidence against her was based on “secret material” that was not disclosed to the defense.
Khatib’s case has drawn attention from human rights groups and activists who have expressed solidarity with her and called for her release.
They have also criticized the Israeli blockade on Gaza, which has been in place since 2007 and has severely restricted the entry of goods and people in and out of the region.
The blockade has led to a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, where there is a shortage of medicines and medical equipment, as well as chronic power cuts and water shortages.