Hamas funnelled ‘terror’ funds through Gazans to Turkey, West Bank - report

Palestinian Islamist group Hamas used Gazans and students from Ramallah to fund terrorist activities in Turkey and the West Bank, the Jerusalem Post reported on Thursday.

The financing scheme, which used Gazans who were entering Israel for humanitarian reasons or with work permits and student activists at the Birzeit University in the West Bank, was thwarted by the Israeli Defence Forces and Shin Bet, it said, citing IDF spokesperson Avichay Adraee.

Israeli police arrested a group of student activists at Birzeit University after they were caught in possession of credit cards used to transfer illegal funds from the Hamas leadership in Gaza to Hamas officials in Turkey, according to the newspaper.

Turkey’s ties with Hamas, which governs the blockaded Palestinian territory of Gaza, is among the string of issues contributing to tensions in relations with Israel. The group, which is designated as a terrorist organisation by Israel, the United States and several European countries, has maintained an Istanbul office. As relations normalize between Ankara and Tel Aviv, Hamas is having to carefully maintain its presence in the country.

The financing scheme saw that money being smuggled out of Gaza using people who entered Israel for humanitarian reasons or seeking work, the Jerusalem Post said. Students from Birzeit University would then withdrew the money from ATMs in Ramallah, using the funds for “terrorist purposes,” including the funding of Hamas activists with the Islamic bloc, considered by Israel as the student cells working for the group, it said.

One suspect in the scheme,  Khaled Sabah, was appointed as head of Hamas in Jerusalem and met with Hamas officials Khaled Atoun and Musa Akari in Turkey, the daily said.

Sabah was also tasked with recruiting new operatives for the group, in addition to collecting more funds and additional operation, the Jerusalem Post reported.

Turkey for years has provided funds and/or citizenship to top Hamas officials, drawing rebuke from Israel.

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