Israeli authorities declared two Gaza money exchange companies as terror organizations
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Defense Minister Benny Gantz designated two companies that help transfer tens of millions of dollars from Iran to Hamas as terrorist organizations.
The two money exchange companies, Al-Markaziya li-siarafa” (formerly known as “Al Mutahadun For Exchange”), and “Arab Trading Company China,” owned by Zohir Younes Shmalach, have been helping transfer the money from the Islamic Republic to Hamas, in particular its so-called military wing.
According to the Defense Ministry, intelligence collected and processed by the IDF’s Intelligence Division since 2019 found that the funds originating in Iran are part of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force’s support for terror organizations operating against Israel.
The money was transferred “with the direct assistance” of the two companies with the “full awareness” of Shmalach using the Hawala mechanism and other financial methods to move money for the benefit of Hamas, the ministry said on Tuesday.
Gantz signed an updated administrative order in November for the seizure of $4 million that was transferred from abroad to Hamas using Shmalach’s Al-Merkazia Lazarapa company. The original order was signed in February 2020.
“We will continue to harm the Iranian-Hamas axis and interrupt the chain of transfer of funds to the military arm of terrorist organizations,” the defense minister said.
The declaration by Gantz is intended to “constitute an additional pillar in preventing the military building of the group’s military arm, and prevent its recovery from the heavy damage caused as a result of Operation Guardian of the Walls,” the ministry said. “This designation sends a clear message to the merchants of Gaza, the message being that any financial activity with companies owned by Shamalch will lead to the levying of financial sanctions and the prevention of import to and export from the Gaza Strip.”
The statement added that “the designation also potentially limits and prevents the business and financial activity of these companies”.
Gantz “will use all of the tools at his disposal” to prevent any economic activity of the two companies, the ministry said, and will prevent companies and businessmen from financing terrorist organizations that work against the State of Israel.
The seizure and restraining orders have been published on the National Bureau for Counter Terror Financing website and translated into English and Arabic.
The declaration is part of Israel’s economic campaign against Hamas, which is led by the Defense Ministry’s National Headquarters on Terrorist Economic Counter-Terrorism along with the Shin Bet internal security agency, IDF, Foreign Affairs Ministry, and other parties.