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Five-Hundred thousand dollars to Hamas-affiliate: Ra’am Nonprofit’s Bank accounts Frozen Over Money Laundering, Terror Financing

Bank Leumi froze the accounts of two Ra’am affiliated nonprofits. Legal proceedings revealed major concerns and the scope of Ra’am-affiliate Support 48’s transfers to Hamas-affiliate Hir Ummah were exposed

  • Elchanan Gruner, Hakol Hayehudi
  • ג' אדר ב תשפ"ד - 09:49 13/03/2024
גודל: א א א
בנק לאומי (Kobi Richter/TPS)
בנק לאומי (Kobi Richter/TPS)

Bank Leumi has frozen two bank accounts belonging to the Ra’am-affiliated nonprofit Support 48 over concerns of money laundering and terror financing.  In particular the Ra’am affiliate transferred funds to the Gaza Strip, Turkey, and Judea and Samaria, which may ultimately have benefited terror.

The first account frozen belongs to the “Support 48" nonprofit, founded in 1996 and employing about 60 people. Its annual turnover is about 80 million NIS.

The second nonprofit is the “Al Aqsa Nonprofit,” founded in 1991, with an annual turnover of about two million NIS. The nonprofit’s aim is to bring hundreds of thousands of Arab Muslims to visit the Temple Mount. The nonprofit made headlines previously over a seminar series it held in conjunction with senior Hamas officials and the inciting Mufti Ekrima Sabri. An advisor to Member of Knesset Ram Ben Barak also participated in this series, which led to additional outcry.

Both nonprofits have now filed petitions in court against Bank Leumi, and additional proceedings have begun.

Regarding the “Al Aqsa Nonprofit”, the parties agreed that the account will remain frozen until the nonprofit provides additional information disproving the allegations. The bank will review any evidence submitted and formulate a decision. Given that a seminar series by the nonprofit was led by senior Hamas leader Najah Behirat, that the nonprofit publicished an article by another senior Hamas leader, and that multiple of its employees are currently being investigated for incitement, it will be difficult for Bank Leumi to unfreeze the account and assume the risks of any violations.

The Al Aqsa Nonprofit was represented in court by Yazid Jabr, a project manager for the group who published support for Hamas during the Guardian of the

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Regarding “Support 48," a detailed response to the petition was filed by Bank Leumi. The response contains a host of accusations against “Support 48."

HaKol HaYehudi’s investigation into collaborations and funds transferred to Hamas-affiliate Hir Ummah in Turkey is a central part of Bank Leumi’s response. The response states that from 2020-2022, Support 48 transferred over $580,000 to Hamas-affiliates in Turkey. Given that Support 48’s connection with these organizations began in 2016, it can be assumed that the total amount transferred is much higher.

Bank Leumi also provided a long list of "red flags" stemming from the nonprofit’s activities. For example, 40 million NIS was transferred from Support 48 to Judea and Samaria and the Gaza Strip in 2023 before the Oct. 7th attack. The nonprofit also operates two bank accounts in Judea and Samaria and the Gaza Strip. Leumi notes that any transfers to those accounts are hard to track onward and could be going for illicit purposes.

In addition, 30 employees of Support 48 reside in Judea and Samaria and the Gaza Strip, and the nonprofit receives many cash deposits, which raises concerns of money laundering.

Among the nonprofit’s listed goals are aiding prisoners, and there is concern is that funds are going to support relatives of terrorists. Support 48 claimed that after Operation "Guardian of the Walls",  the word "prisoners" was removed from their mission statement and that they stopped transferring money to Gaza. However, it seems that this change was made solely at the behest of Bank Leumi. Furthermore, Leumi notes that this change gives further evidence to the suspicion that funds were used to pay terrorists.

Previously, there was an injunction against the organization’s funds obtained by the "Shurat HaDin" organization to compensate terror victims of Hamas. Although the injunction was lifted, given the concerns over Support 48’s connections to Hamas, the bank fears that the injunction could be revived.

Bank Leumi also wrote that the media coverage about transfers to the Hamas-affiliate Hir Ummah, strengthen the suspicions surrounding Support 48's activities, and that the bank therefore had no choice but to freeze the account.

The bank concludes, “Support 48's activities raise concerns that the plaintiff is using the account for funding of terrorism and money laundering. This is further evidenced by transfers to various entities in Gaza, the plaintiff’s admission that funds went to support security prisoners, an injunction against the plaintiff regarding transfers to Hamas, and additional media coverage on the nonprofit’s activities. Together these concerns suggest that funds from the account are being diverted for terror activities. Given the above, the bank is not only allowed to but required to freeze the account to prevent money laundering and terror financing.”

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