Report: 2014 Saw Dramatic Increase in Terrorism Funds Reaching West Bank
Israel security forces seized in 2014 some 5 million shekels ($1.3 million) in funds used by terror groups in the West Bank, double the amount seized last year, according to figures released by military prosecutors on Monday.
The funds were confiscated during the course of over 100 counter-terror operations carried out by the Israel Defense Forces and other security personnel in the West Bank during last year.
Most of the confiscated money belonged to Hamas, which receives the largest portion of its financial support from Qatar and Iran. The funds are used by Hamas for paying salaries and building terror infrastructure, such as Hamas training camps to recruit teenagers and young men in the West Bank.
According to Maj. Mazi Mekonen, a senior military prosecutor in Judea and Samaria, the dramatic increase in terror funds was linked to increased Hamas control in the administrative field.
The IDF said it has been able to link the increased Hamas control over basic services provided to Palestinians with the increase in funding for terror. The funds are funneled through “educational and charitable institutions,” under Hamas’ control, Israel’s Maariv reported.
Mekonen said that, in light of this fact, Israel’s security services also pursue the sources of Hamas’ funding in order to limit its control over the Palestinians. “Hamas is able to funnel a lot of money, not only for military operations, but also for civilian services – and that’s how it buys the support of the people.”
Mekonen noted that Hamas has a very sophisticated method of transferring the money, “which passes through Jordan, and through Gaza, through seemingly innocuous [bank] accounts set up in other countries, and which end up in the West Bank.”
The IDF prosecutor’s office in Judea and Samaria emphasized that security forces confiscated these funds so as to minimize Hamas’ impact on Palestinian civilian life, and confiscation is only carried out after a thorough examination of the source of the funds.
Mekonen also noted that the IDF does not confiscate “all the money when we conduct an operation, only that which sufficient intelligence identifies as money for terrorism.”
Palestinians are also able to appeal the confiscation of funds, and in at least 35 cases, money was returned after it was proven not to be linked to terrorist groups or activity.