Israel charges 4 businessmen for allegedly smuggling
The Southern District Attorney's Office on Monday filed indictments with the Beersheba District Court against three Israelis and a fourth man, all businessmen in large companies, for helping illegally smuggle iron to Gaza groups linked to Hamas in exchange for millions of shekels.
The defendants are accused of “providing raw materials directly to Hamas for the benefit of manufacturing rockets, missiles, and other armaments.”
The men were named as Mica Peretz, of the Gaza corridor, Yehoram Alon, of Tel Aviv, Nagi Zuareb, of Shehade, and a fourth businessman whose name is under a gag order.
The indictment says that the four clearly knew that the Gaza groups they were dealing with were linked to Hamas.
The four indictments relate to previous indictments filed against a group of five Palestinians.
According to the indictment, the smuggling is connected with the Kerem Shalom crossing into Gaza, and from there the materials made their way to major Hamas buyer and operative Osama Zuarov, who is officially banned by Israel in terms of trade.
Despite getting officially warned by the security establishment that Zuarov was officially banned and to cease selling to him, the defendants used straw man Gaza companies to continue to sell to him clandestinely, alleged the indictment.
Next, the indictment states that one of those companies "Bridge to the Future," was founded by Zuarov in December 2014, but registered in his brother Nagi's name - one of the defendants - to avoid detection.
The fourth defendant whose name is under gag order successfully warned Zuarov not to come to the border to conduct one of the deals "so that the dogs would not arrest him," referring to Israeli security forces.
The charges include: assisting an enemy in time of war, terror financing, fraudulent receipt of an item under aggravated circumstances, money-laundering, tax crimes and other crimes.
In announcing the lifting of the gag order on most of the affair, Israeli authorities said, “there is a disconcerting phenomenon in which Israeli business owners do serious harm to the security of the State of Israel in exchange for money.”
The authorities said the operation was a joint effort by the Israel Police, the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet), the Israel Defense Forces, the Defense Ministry, and the Tax Authority.
The arrests of the three individuals were carried out “at the beginning of last month.”
The authorities allege that the three men received “large sums of money” in exchange for materials that Israel has banned from entering the Hamas-ruled territory “since they can be used to rehabilitate the terror infrastructure that was hit during Operation Protective Edge.”
The state requested that the court keep the suspects detained until their trial is complete.
Source: Jerusalem Post