ID cards 298.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Jerusalem police arrested seven Arab men suspected of selling hundreds of forged Israeli ID cards and other legal documents to Palestinians for thousands of shekels over the last year, police said Wednesday.
The seven Arabs, who were apprehended last week for allegedly taking part in the counterfeit scam, include six residents of east Jerusalem and one from the West Bank.
A court-imposed gag order, which had been in place on the case at police's request, was lifted Wednesday.
The counterfeit ring is suspected of selling hundreds of forged documents, including Israeli ID cards, court protocols regarding Arab family reunification cases, and Israeli insurance cards in exchange for hundreds or thousands of shekels per document, Jerusalem police spokesman Shmuel Ben-Ruby said.
According to police, the forged documents were sold to hundreds of Arab residents of Jerusalem, and hundreds of Palestinians living in the West Bank.
A four-month long police investigation revealed that the Arabs who purchased the forged documents did so through intermediaries who approached members of the counterfeiting ring on their behalf, and then forged the documents in their homes, the police said.
During a search of their homes, police uncovered forged court protocols, fake insurance certificates, paper cutting materials, and other documents, police said.
The suspects changed the names and switched the photos on the documents they forged, police said.
A police investigator in the case said that some of the documents seized in the search were authentic.
The suspected ringleader in the counterfeiting scam has been identified as Zohar Rajbi, 40, of east Jerusalem. Rajbi has a past criminal record for such crimes.
Police are investigating how the ringleaders attained the documents.
The seven suspects in the case have been remanded in custody by a Jerusalem court twice since their arrest for eight days, police said.
Police said that more arrests are expected in the case as their investigation proceeds.
The Israeli identity cards that Jerusalem Arabs carry have become increasingly valuable to them over the last couple years because of increased Israeli travel restrictions as a result of the construction of the security barrier between Jerusalem and the West Bank.
Police are investigating whether the fake Israeli ID cards were used for Palestinian terror attacks.
Police suspect that thousands of forged Israeli documents have been sold to Palestinians over the last couple years.