Laborer-smuggling network exposed

32 nabbed for allegedly giving fake staying permits to W. Bank Palestinians.

A network that smuggled illegal Palestinian workers was exposed Sunday by police’s Lahav-443 unit.
The network was run by farmers and residents of the West Bank. Two of those involved were also state employees, a woman who works for the Civil Administration and a senior employee at the Interior Ministry.
32 suspects were arrested; and police were set to bring the chief suspects to the Rishon Lezion Magistrate's Court for a remand extension hearing. .
According to the police, the network's operators made millions of shekels illegally. The network operated by producing staying permits which were effectively out of date. Police said hundreds of Palestinians were allowed into Israel in this manner. Some of them are even suspected of being involved in criminal activity while inside the country.
According to the charges, one of the suspects presented staying permitsfor Palestinian laborers to the Interior Ministry employee and a Civil Administration representative in Ashkelon. The employees would produceshort-term staying permits for the laborers, who then overstayed theirpermits’ stated expiry dates.
The arrest took place overnight Saturday, when 443 agents, accompaniedby IDF troops and Border Police officers entered the houses of dozensof West Bank residents suspected of trading in the expired permits.
Tax Authority investigators also questioned several farmers, who allegedly helped the Palestinians enter Israel illegally.