Israel cracks down on Hamas institutions

Gaza mortar fire 224.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
Gaza mortar fire 224.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Israel has decided to increase its efforts to topple the Hamas civilian infrastructure in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and, on Monday, IDF troops stormed Nablus, shutting down a girls' school, a medical center and two other facilities of a Hamas-affiliated charity. The operation came after Defense Minister Ehud Barak signed an order banning 36 charities - based across the globe - due to the alleged assistance they provide to Hamas's terror operations. Officials said that the order signed by Barak was the most comprehensive directive issued in Israeli history in the war on terror financing and was a continuation of previous bans imposed on the Interpal Charity in England, the Al Aqsa Fund in Europe and the Holy Land Foundation in the United States as well as other funds and charities in Holland, Italy, Denmark, Sweden and France. All of these charities are part of the "Union of Good" - an umbrella organization for foundations operated by Hamas around the world, especially in Europe and the Gulf states. The organization was outlawed by the defense minister in 2002 due to its support of Hamas. In the early-morning Nablus raid dozens of jeeps, two bulldozers and two trucks entered Nablus at around one in the morning. Witnessess said that computers, documents, cash and furniture were seized during the raid. "We consider the Israeli decision to shut down charities that take care of families of martyrs, orphans and poor people as a moral crime," Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said in Gaza. "It's an inhumane act against poor sectors in the Palestinian society." He made no mention of the truce. In recent months, Israel and Fatah security forces have gone after West Bank charities, money changers, women's cooperatives, media outlets and schools with suspected ties to Hamas. "The Israelis have confiscated all computers, documents, televisions and even mobile phones from the school," said school principal Fidda Draikh. "Now we need to look for an alternative place to educate these girls. We cannot leave them without a school." Security officials said that in 2007 over $120 million were transferred to the Palestinian territories and was used to fund terrorist activity, including 30 percent which Hamas designated for its Dawa charity foundations. The money, the officials said, came from a number of states including the US, Iran, Jordan, Syria, Australia, South Africa and countries in Europe. Dozens of foundations operated abroad by Hamas, in coordination with the dozens of Hamas charitable associations active in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, form a well organized and coordinated support network that includes Hamas's fundraising arm abroad and the vital civilian and infrastructure networks in the territories, officials said. Recently, it has become clear that Union-affiliated foundations are trying to raise funds not only for Hamas's charitable associations in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip, but for the activities of the Hamas government as well. Officials said Barak's new order would require the Israeli and world banking systems to take steps in order to avoid criminal activity by cooperating and working with the newly-outlawed charities. AP contributed to the report