Police to investigate suspected fraud in Schalit campaign

Schalit family to Army Radio: "Mr. Bar-Shira was asked to stop using the family's name to raise money."

Schalit Demo 311 (photo credit: Gali Sheffer Manor)
Schalit Demo 311
(photo credit: Gali Sheffer Manor)
Police have opened a fraud investigation after it emerged Thursday morning that a man who worked for the Campaign to Free Gilad Schalit was funneling donations for the campaign to a private, unaffiliated organization.
Earlier, Army Radio reported that Yoel Marshak, a kibbutz leader and an activist in the Schalit campaign, had appointed Ronen Bar-Shira, who was previously convicted of fraud, to be in charge of fund-raising for the campaign.
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According to the report, after a flotilla arranged by Marshak to express solidarity with Schalit was canceled, suppliers who had been recruited by the Schalit family to help with the project did not receive the full amount of their money back.
Gilad’s brother Yoel Schalit said on Thursday that the family was saddened to see Gilad’s name exploited for personal gain.
In an interview with Army Radio, Yoel Schalit said: “The fund-raising for efforts to save Gilad was done only though official organizations listed under our supervision, and under the supervision of an accountant.
“Donations for a project in the campaign were reportedly not returned to the donors after the project was canceled. “Unfortunately, it appears that there was a one-time attempt by an individual to raise funds not through our organization.
When we heard about this, the family informed the organizers of the project to stop working with this man, and during a meeting held with a lawyer Mr. Bar-Shira was asked to immediately stop using the family’s name to raise money.
“Unfortunately for the family, there are those who exploited the situation using improper means, as we saw from this incident,” he said.
Bar-Shira told Army Radio, “My past has nothing to do with this. I returned all the donations to the suppliers. I am ready to come tomorrow with the receipt book and the people who worked on it, and show each document. If I’m wrong about something, I’ll jump from the Shalom Tower or from the highest building in the country.”
Marshak said, “As soon as I discovered that we were dealing with a con man, I stopped any contact with him, and I tried to get the debt paid.”
Meanwhile, Schalit’s father, Noam, is scheduled to testify over the phone on Friday before a UN Human Rights Council panel charged with monitoring compliance by both Israel and Palestinians with the Goldstone Report on the IDF’s Operation Cast Lead offensive in the Gaza Strip.
The report’s recommendations included a call for the release of Gilad Schalit, who has been held in Gaza since June 2006. The panel is expected to present a report to the Human Rights Council in March.