Defense Minister Ehud Barak this week declared a crackdown on 36 Palestinian charities Israel claims are funneling money to Hamas. On Wednesday an IDF force raided the offices of a charities in the West Bank city of Nablus, confiscated documents an ordered its closure for a period of two years. Thousands of Palestinians took to the streets in protest, claiming the closure of the foundations was hurting the needy.
The Israeli army has recently raided 10 charity foundations in Nablus and Ramallah. On Tuesday Israel ordered the closure of Nablus' only shopping mall, saying the company that runs it is linked to Hamas.
Acting Nablus Mayor Hafez Shahin said he would not abide by the "illegal" IDF order to close the mall down.
Members of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah faction called Israel's campaign against Palestinian charity foundations a "war crime," adding that the IDF makes no distinction between terror-sponsoring groups and bona fide foundations, some of which are linked to Abbas' government.
The IDF's campaign will only serve to boost Hamas, one Fatah source said, adding that among the raided facilities was a factory that supplies milk to the West Bank's indigent population.
"The factory was in fact run in the past few months by people associated with Hamas, including the father of a senior member of Hamas' armed wing who was killed by the IDF," he said, "but in accordance with new orders handed down by (Palestinian Prime Minister Salam) Fayyad's government, the factory was handed over to elements with ties to the government. This did not prevent the IDF from shutting it down."
The Fatah member also slammed the timing of the IDF crackdown, saying it is taking place when the government is directing its efforts towards tending to the "real economic needs of the people, far from the political influence of Hamas or any other organization".
A Hamas figure told Ynet that the IDF's activity against the charities would not harm the Islamist group, which, according to him, "will find a way to support the needy". Hamas has said Israel and Fatah are cooperating in the campaign against the foundations.