Network busted smuggling Palestinian workers into Israel

Civil Administration official and a senior female Interior Ministry employee among the suspected ring members.

A “sophisticated and prosperous” network for smuggling hundreds of Palestinian workers into Israel was broken up on Sunday, police said, adding that a female official from the IDF Civil Administration for Judea and Samaria and a senior female Interior Ministry employee were among the suspected ring members.
Officers from the police’s National Economic Crimes Unit and the Lahav 433 unit raided dozens of homes in the West Bank, arresting Palestinians suspected of buying and selling entry permits.
Earlier, police together with Tax Authority officials and representatives from the Trade, Industry and Labor Ministry arrested agricultural employers suspected of being involved in the scheme.
Police say one of the arrested men masterminded the network.
“Palestinian workers were told to get in touch with intermediaries, who would put them in touch with our central suspect,” police said. “After receiving a request for an entry permit, the suspect would speak to the Interior Ministry employee, who was responsible for issuing entry permits, and with the civil administration official.”
The permits were issued to the workers to work in agriculture, but were used by them to enter Israel and work in other sectors.
“The permits became invalid after a few days, but were not returned to authorities. In this way, the workers possessed authentic yet invalid permits, giving them immunity from arrest and allowing them to enter the country,” police added.
Each permit cost thousands of shekels to obtain, and the network made millions of shekels a year, police said.
“As far as we know, some of the West Bank residents took part in criminal activities within Israel,” police added.
The investigation was initiated after an enforcement unit in the Trade,Industry and Labor Ministry contacted police over suspicions that thatdozens of entry permits meant for agricultural work were beingallocated to Palestinians doing other jobs.