Palestinian prisoners court.
(photo credit: JPOST.COM STAFF)
The Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) has arrested a number of east Jerusalem neighborhood of Issawiya, including the manager of a local post office, as part of an investigation that has uncovered an intricate scheme to launder Hamas money and transfer funds to Palestinian security detainees in Israeli prisons.
On Monday, the Shin Bet announced that it had arrested seven suspects behind the transfer of millions of shekels to Palestinian terrorists in Israeli jails.
The suspected group leader, attorney Shirin Issawi, was arrested at a checkpoint outside Jerusalem last month with $100,000 and NIS 53,000 in cash, as well as a USB disk-on-key she had received from terror chiefs imprisoned in Israel, containing documents pertaining to Hamas activities.
Following Issawi’s April 22 arrest, the Shin Bet uncovered additional members of the ring, including her brothers Madhat Issawi – a 37-year-old former operative of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine who was released from an Israeli prison
in 2009 – and 16-year-old Rafat Issawi. Both brothers come from the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Issawiya.
The other suspects arrested in the investigation were Salim Abed al-Rahman, a post office manager from Atarot who confessed to receiving bribes from the Issawis and in exchange deposited the money in accounts belonging to security detainees.
According to the law against terrorist funding, terrorist prisoners are allowed to receive monthly investments in their accounts of no more than NIS 1,300.
Sufian Zabda, a postal worker stationed at the Erez Crossing between Gaza and Israel, was also arrested for allegedly transferring millions of shekels from Hamas and Islamic Jihad charities in the Gaza Strip via couriers to Shirin Issawi, who was in charge of depositing the money. Another suspect arrested, Malsem Hala’ila, was also a courier from Gaza.
The couriers in the group are accused of transferring tens of thousands of dollars weekly from Hamas- and Islamic Jihad-affiliated charities in Gaza to Israel.
Security officials said the group had succeeded in funneling millions of shekels to security prisoners through postal bank accounts registered with both fake identity numbers and numbers of deceased Palestinians from the Gaza Strip.
The Shin Bet said Hamas had decided to hire Issawi to deposit the funds after its charities and institutions were shut down throughout the West Bank. Issawi regularly visited Israeli prisons and became a close confidant of a number of imprisoned senior Hamas terrorists.
“This [the arrests] will strike a serious blow to Hamas and Islamic Jihad and their attempts to coordinate terror activities from prison,” a security official said.
Meanwhile, the state filed charges in the Jerusalem District Court against five of the suspects, including Shirin and Madhat Issawi, Zabda and West Bank resident Samar Abdo.
The two Issawis were charged with violating the law prohibiting the funding of terror organizations, fraud in aggravated circumstances and giving bribes.
According to the indictment, Shirin, who represented imprisoned
terrorists, acted together with others “to enable organizations,
including terrorist organizations to which the prisoners belonged, to
deposit money on behalf of their imprisoned members as payment of the
terrorist acts for which they were imprisoned and hiding the source of
One of the prisoners, Yihye Sanua, allegedly asked Issawi to deposit
funds from the terrorist organizations into the accounts of the
prisoners. Issawi and others received instructions from the terrorist
organizations, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad, as to who was to
According to the indictment, the money was delivered by the terrorist
organizations to Zabda, who worked as a liaison between the postal
services in Gaza and Israel. Zabda forwarded the money to the account of
Abdo in the West Bank village of Azariya, outside Jerusalem. Abdo gave
the money to Issawi and her brother, who were able to convince Rahman,
who operated a post office in Kalandiya, to deposit the money in the
prisoners’ accounts, despite regulations preventing such actions.