A Palestinian policeman stands guard as a truck loaded with fruits and vegetables waits to cross into the Israeli side of the Kerem Shalom crossing in Rafah.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Israel Lands Administration on Sunday filed a civil complaint with the Beersheba Magistrate’s Court against businessman Mica Peretz, some of his family members and an associated agricultural entity seeking NIS 809,775 for misuse of their agricultural and storage areas to hold items for Hamas.
The complaint followed a March 2 criminal indictment against Peretz and six others for helping to illegally smuggle iron from their property in the South to Gaza groups linked to Hamas in exchange for millions of shekels.
Peretz and other criminal defendants were accused of “providing raw materials directly to Hamas for the manufacture of rockets, missiles and other armaments.”
In the civil complaint, it is alleged that Peretz and the other defendants built and allowed to be built a large number of illegal structures covering an 1.1 hectare area, all of which were used at some point for storing or transferring items to Hamas. It is alleged that Hamas also was the source of many of Peretz’s profits from the agricultural and storage areas.
In the past, the ILA had warned Peretz about the structures which he had used and maintained illegally for an extended period of years.
Further, the complaint seeks the court’s permission to demolish the complex of structures and a permanent injunction to reinforce the prohibition on illegal building in the area.
The Justice Ministry said the impetus for filing a civil lawsuit on top of the criminal indictment was to give a “clear negative incentive” to deter future persons from copying Peretz’s actions.
According to the criminal indictment, in the big picture, the smuggling is connected with the Kerem Shalom crossing into Gaza, from where the materials made their way to major Hamas buyer and operative Osama Zuarov to help Hamas reconstitute its infrastructure after the 2014 Gaza war.