Arabs transfer over NIS 1M to Hamas inmates
New security scandal is cleared for publication. At end of joint Shin Bet-police investigation, seven residents of east Jerusalem, Abu Ghosh and Gaza arrested, including lawyer. They are charged with transferring over one million shekels to Hamas, Islamic Jihad prisoners
It was cleared for publication Monday that seven residents of east Jerusalem, Gaza and Abu Ghosh, including a lawyer, were arrested in the past month on suspicions that they transferred over a million shekels to Hamas and Islamic Jihad security prisoners sitting in Israeli jails.
At the end of a Shin Bet, police, and Tax Authority investigation, an indictment was issued against five of the suspects at the Jerusalem District Court.
The suspects are Attorney Shirin Issawi, 32, and her brother Madhat, 36, both from the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Isawiya, Samer Abdo, 42, from Beit Hanina, Sofian Zabeda, 40, from Gaza, and Salim Abdel Rahman, 29, from Abu Ghosh. Another Issawi sibling, Rafat, has been arrested, but not indicted, in the affair.
According to the indictment, the money transfers commenced at the end of last year. Attorney Shirin Issawi received power of attorney from the Palestinian inmates to handle their affairs.
The money was transferred from the Hamas and Islamic Jihad command centers in the Gaza Strip. After Abdel Rahman, the manager of the postal bank in east Jerusalem was bribed, he helped transfer the money to the jailed Palestinians, which included a number of senior terrorist operatives. He apparently did so via Zabeda, the coordinator between Israel Postal Service and Gaza's mail service.
As a rule, a Palestinian inmate is entitled to receive NIS 1,300 (about $340) per month. However, in this affair, a number of prisoners received tens of thousands of shekels a month, thus markedly exceeding the permissible funds allowed to prisoners.
The indictment, which was submitted by Attorney Sagi Ofir from the Jerusalem District Prosecution, reveals that Attorney Issawi regularly visited a large number of security prisoners jailed in Israel as part of her work.
According to the prosecution, the lawyer, her brother, and three others acted as part of an axis whose purpose is to allow organizations, including the terrorist organizations to which the prisoners belong, to deposit money for the benefit of their jailed members as recompense for the terrorist acts for which they were arrested.
'She abused her position'
In addition, the indictment reveals that Issawi allegedly abused her position as a lawyer to transfer information between the prisoners and Hamas leadership. In order to carry out their money transfers, the suspects studied up on the Israel Prison Service and Israel Postal Service protocols for making money transfers to prisoner accounts.
Postal employees are obligated to allow deposits only in the presence of the depositors and only after verifying their identity. The prosecution claims that the suspects overcame these obstacles by bribing the postal operator at Qalandiya Checkpoint in Jerusalem. They would then recruit random postal bank customers and fraudulently present them as the person making the deposit in the prisoners' accounts.
The indictment claimed that Issawi visited Yehiya Sanwar in jail. Sanwar serves as the head of the supreme committee for Hamas prisoners in Israel. During her visit, Sanwar asked her to deposit money into accounts of prisoners from the Gaza Strip. Issawi allegedly agreed, on condition that she receive 4% commission on any deposit made.
The affair reveals the manner in which terrorist organizations continue to support Palestinian prisoners while they are in jail by funneling funds to them for their benefit, and thus maintaining contact with them, which could in the future ensure that they return to the fold of terrorist activity should they be released.
A previous security breach was cleared for publication two weeks ago. Ameer Makhoul, a 52-year-old author from Haifa, and Omar Said, 50 from Kfar Qana, were arrested on suspicions of severe security breaches, including espionage and contact with a foreign agent for Hezbollah.
In August 2009, another espionage case broke. Rawi Sultani, 23 from Tirah, was arrested on suspicions that he was recruited by Hezbollah in Morocco, and told his handlers about Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi's daily routine, including when he went to the gym to work out.
Aviad Glickman contributed to this report