Gaza imam gets 1 year in jail for smuggling funds from Malaysia to Hamas

The Southern District Attorney's Office said that it had encountered various evidential difficulties in the case, leading to the plea deal with reduced charges and a light sentence.

HAMAS MEMBERS in Gaza. (photo credit: REUTERS)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Beersheba District Court on Sunday sentenced a Gaza imam to one year in jail in a plea bargain on a conviction for smuggling funds from Malaysian charities to Hamas.
The Southern District Attorney’s Office said it had encountered various evidentiary difficulties in the case, leading to the plea deal with reduced charges and a light sentence relative to the original charges.
In February, Imam Walid Div, 43, was indicted for a range of offenses related to helping finance Hamas, including traveling from Gaza to Egypt numerous times since 2013 en route to deliver religious sermons in Malaysia.
According to the indictment, while in Malaysia, Div was asked by Malaysian charities Aman Palestine and Mapim to smuggle funds into Gaza for Hamas.
In 2013, he smuggled $3,000 on behalf of the Malaysian chapter of Aman Palestine to Hamas.
Div also worked with many of the same charities to smuggle funds to Hamas from Malaysia on other occasions, including contact with the Aman Palestine chapter in Gaza.
Neither Div nor the Malaysian charities are officially associated with Hamas. But the charities include members of Hamas who use them as a front to raise terrorism funds for Gaza’s rulers.
Likewise, while Div quit working directly with Hamas shortly after briefly joining it in 2004, he maintained ties to some of its officials and had expressed a willingness to assist in smuggling funds.
In February, the Justice Ministry said he also had helped smuggle a package of unknown identity (presumed to be electronic) from Malaysia to Egypt, finding upon landing that it had disappeared.
The statement appeared to imply that other Hamas associates may have taken the package in Egypt once Div succeeded in getting it out of Malaysia.
Div was originally charged with performing illegal activities for foreign agents and providing services for an illegal organization. The charge of acting to acquire assets in support of terrorism was dropped.
As Israel and the US have cracked down on terrorist financing for groups such as Hamas, Gaza’s rulers have attempted to use more creative approaches to raising funds abroad. Suitcases and clothing with concealed cash transported by clerics, the elderly and others who might draw less scrutiny are among the tactics Hamas uses.