Thursday, June 26, 2008

PM To Terror Victims: "I Transfer Money To Hamas!"


In an unprecedented move, the office of Israel's Prime Minister admitted today that it is allowing the transfer of hundreds of millions of dollars to the Hamas terrorist organization in Gaza due to "Israeli political considerations."

In a letter dispatched to Attorney Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, director of human rights organization Shurat HaDin Israel Law Center, the prime minister's office (PMO) writes that the transfer of funds to the Hamas controlled Palestinian Authority in the Gaza Strip takes place after "consultations among the relevant bodies."

"At this point," reads the letter, dated June 25, 2008, "due to conclusions that there is an Israeli interest that the transfer of funds continue, a decision was made to continue to transfer certain sums of money to the Gaza Strip."

The official PMO letter was dispatched to Shurat HaDin, an organization representing hundreds of terror victims in an ongoing global battle against terror funding, in response to a series of warning letters from the organization to the prime minister, the Bank of Israel and the Israel Postal Bank, in which Shurat HaDin demanded that all transfers of funds be halted to Hamas and the Hamas controlled organs in the Gaza Strip.

In dispatching the letters on behalf of Shurat HaDin's clients, themselves victims of Hamas terror acts, Attorney Nitsana Darshan-Leitner wrote: "The coin of record in the Gaza Strip is the New Israeli Shekel (NIS)." Most of the financial activity in the Gaza Strip runs on a cash basis, using the NIS. Tens of thousands of Hamas terrorists and governmental official get their salary in Israeli currency – in cash. Thus, the transfer of large sums of cash into the Gaza Strip is, by definition, an act that directly fuels the terrorist activity of Hamas and is therefore a violation of the Terror-Funding Act of 2005 and the domestic and international laws against money laundering."

The warning letters from Shurat HaDin also note that a portion of the cash funneled into Gaza is used to replace Israeli currency in Hamas' coffers that has physically deteriorated and another portion serves the international money laundering trade, most notably the money "smuggled" by Hamas from Iran via the Egyptian border. Without these activities, Hamas' financial hold on the Strip would collapse and thus these acts are directly responsible for shoring up the Hamas control over Gaza and its continued terrorist activity launched from the region.

The Bank of Israel has not denied these allegations, yet it has done all in its power to tone down its involvement and especially the fact that it forces Hapoalim and Discount Banks to provide financial banking services to the Strip, all the while violating Israel's terror funding laws.

The Israel Postal Bank has confirmed that it does transfer funds to the Gaza Strip "with the knowledge of the relevant governing bodies."

Today, for the first time, the Israeli government has admitted that it allows and encourages the financial support for the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip – knowingly and openly.

In reaction to the PMO letter Attorney Nitsana Darshan-Leitner said that "the government of Israel cannot fight against the Hamas with one hand, and continue to finance it with the other. The government of Israel calls on governments the world over to shun, reject and embargo the Hamas government in Gaza, and stop transferring funds to it while at the same time she herself is allowing the transfer of Israeli currency into the hands of the enemy. This government claims to be fighting against the smuggling of tens of millions of dollars and euro into the Gaza Strip via the Egyptian border, all the while participating in the laundering of this money by exchanging them for New Israeli Shekels."

"Since our client's demands to bring this sad comedy of the criminally absurd to a halt has fallen on deaf ears, we are now prepared to take all possible legal action to stop this bizarre and scandalous activity."

The letter:

UNOFFICIAL TRANSLATION (with comments in red):

Office of the Prime Minister
Legal Counsel

Jerusalem, 25 June 2008
File # - 63280 – 23

Attorney Nitsana Darshan-Leitner
Beit HaKeren, Hata'as 10
Ramat Gan, 52512

Hon. Ma'am,

Re: Transfer of Funds to Gaza Strip
Ref: Yours of 17.4.08

Your letter to the Prime Minister referenced above was transferred to the legal department in our office for the purpose of an answer. Our answer follows:

1. The transfer of funds to the Palestinian Authority in the Gaza Strip (what PA in Gaza - Gaza is controlled by Hamas!) takes place with the knowledge of the government of Israel for political reasons.

2. The transfer of funds takes place after consultations on the issue with the relevant bodies participating, in which the possible options were weighed and the possible ramifications of stopping the transfer of funds. At this stage, in light of the conclusion that there is an Israeli
interest that the transfer of funds continue to take place, it was decided to continue to transfer a certain amount of money to the Gaza Strip. It should be clarified that the issue continues to be raised in a forum that meets on a regular basis, as necessary. By doing so, we are ensured that
the transfer of money is only done after all the relevant factors are taken into account.


Michal Grossman, Esq.
(Acting) Assistant to Legal Counsel

Cc: Mr. Ehud Olmert, Prime Minister