IDF forces, Israel Police Lahav 433 unit and the Shin Bet today conducted an extensive operation in Judea and Samaria today to confiscate Hamas terror funds. Banknotes in various currencies worth tens of millions of shekels were seized, while 21 wanted terrorists were arrested with the cash. The authorities have not yet counted all the money and the final total is likely to be higher than thought.
The lion's share of these millions of shekels in Judea and Samaria come from Iran, which is trying to increase its influence. According to Ministry of Defense estimates, the budget of the terrorist organizations coming from Iran has jumped in the last two years from about 10-15% to more than 50%.
The intelligence activities in Judea and Samaria are led by the IDF Central Command intelligence corps, which operates a special unit focusing on the matter with the Shin Bet. The current operation is exceptional because it was undertaken together with the cyber unit in Lahav 433, which strives to also seize funds transferred to Hamas via cryptocurrencies.
The focus of the financial transfers was the Jenin region, which in recent years has become the most significant base of activities for Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Judea and Samaria. During the overnight operation, IDF aircraft attacked Jenin, an armed terrorist squad fired at IDF forces, and terrorists were identified. In several locations in Judea and Samaria, IDF forces responded by shooting at terrorists who threw explosives, Molotov cocktails, threw rocks and shot at the forces. There were casualties among the terrorists.
The money currently fuels terrorist recruitment, not ideology
Hamas financial operations in Judea and Samaria are conducted through a network of terrorists and arms smuggling. Even before the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza, Iran had increased the money and resources that it was attempting to bring into Judea and Samaria.
Along the IDF Central Command's eastern front, most of the money and weapons being smuggled in from Jordan have come via Iraq. Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards commander Seyyed Razi Mousavi, who was killed earlier this week in an airstrike in Damascus, was likely involved in this operation.
The money transfer system involves more than weapons smuggling and cryptocurrency dealing. There are moneychangers who assist in transferring the funds onto civilian companies and charitable institutions, which actually belong to Hamas and Islamic Jihad and use the money for terrorist activities.
The aim of the Israeli security forces operations in Judea and Samaria is not to completely wipe out the terrorist organizations, because this would be difficult to achieve. The goal of the financial struggle is to cut off the flow of funds, thus reducing the effectiveness of the smuggled weapons, since with less money it is more difficult to purchase ammunition. Furthermore, it is this money that is currently fueling the recruitment of terrorists. In contrast to the past, when the ideological motive was the main motive in Palestinian terrorist activity, today, Hamas tempts young people, for example, to carry out a shooting attack for NIS 2,500. Thus these amounts are required to feed terrorist activity.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on December 28, 2023.
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