Barak okays NIS 100m transfer to Gaza

Decision for Sunday transfer follows appeals from Fayad, Fischer; Yishai calls move "a terror prize."

gaza bank 248 88 ap (photo credit: AP [file])
gaza bank 248 88 ap
(photo credit: AP [file])
Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Wednesday approved the transfer of some NIS 100 million from West Bank banks to banks in the Gaza Strip. IDF spokesman Peter Lerner said armored trucks would cross from the West Bank to Gaza with the money. He said the transfer would be carried out by Sunday. The decision came in response to a "personal appeal" from Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salaam Fayad and a request from Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer, the Defense Ministry said in a statement. Shas chair Eli Yishai on Wednesday criticized the move, calling it "a terror prize." "The Security council gets together, and instead of sending a message to Gaza belt [communities], Sderot and Ashkelon, it sends a message to Gaza and to Kassam launchers," he said. Yoel Marshak, Head of an organization fighting for the release of captive soldier SSgt. Gilad Schalit, also criticized Barak's decision, saying the move would foil the efforts to release Schalit. "We have no problem with transferring water and food, but cash-flow will directly fund terror," Marshak warned. Israel has not allowed money to enter Gaza since October, causing cash shortages in local banks. Its refusal to let Palestinian banks send money to their Gaza branches is one of the steps it has taken in response to rocket attacks from Gaza. Last week, on what was meant to be pay day for tens of thousands of civil servants, many Gazans were unable to collect their salaries because money ran out. Gazans use other currencies, including US dollars and Jordanian dinars, but the Israeli shekel is the territory's main currency. Jihad al-Wazir, head of the Palestinian Monetary Authority, said the money would "help" but that Gaza needed a regular supply of cash. The Israeli move, he said, "does not resolve the overall problem of regular inflow of liquidity." Palestinian monetary officials earlier claimed they needed an immediate infusion of 250 million shekels to cover salaries.