When Justice Ministry officials began to draft a law that would ban Africans migrants from sending money from Israel to their relatives at home, they were not surprised to discover that hundreds of thousands of shekels from the foreign workers’ salaries find their way overseas every week. What stunned the officials, however, was the discovery that a fair portion of this money is used to finance terror organizations. The migrants are used by these organizations to overcome the difficulties of moving cash in and out of Israel and into the West Bank.
In a routine analysis compiled recently for background information to the proposed law, Shin Bet security service agents and officials from the police unit that investigates international crime detailed how the African migrants transport money. One report, entitled “Money transfer via unofficial means, in ways that pose a threat to Israeli security,” found that some of the funds that the migrants think they’re sending to Africa are actually being laundered by terror groups.
According to the report, the migrants give the funds to intermediaries, who then pass them on to other intermediaries, who in turn give them to Palestinians in the West Bank or Arab residents of East Jerusalem. That money ultimately reaches the coffers of Hamas and other organizations and stays in those coffers. This is extremely helpful to these organizations, which normally have a hard time getting cash into the West Bank.
Delegates of Hamas and other organizations who live overseas – often in Iran, Lebanon and Syria – then send commensurate sums of money to cohorts in the African countries that sent the cash, who finally bring the funds to the original sources. This system does not involve electronic transfers from Israel overseas, making it impossible for Israeli officials to measure the scope of the money circuit and the amount of money that passes into the West Bank via its tributaries.
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