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Gaza man charged with funneling money to Hamas in West Bank

Zuhair Arafat accused of conspiring with members of Palestinian organization, transferring NIS 100,000 intended for its terror activity

Illustrative: Hamas security forces in Gaza City, April 4, 2013. (Wissam Nassar/Flash90/File)
Illustrative: Hamas security forces in Gaza City, April 4, 2013. (Wissam Nassar/Flash90/File)

A Gaza resident was indicted Thursday for allegedly funneling money to fund Hamas terror activity in the West Bank.

Zuhair Arafat, 43, is accused of conspiring with Gaza-based members of the Palestinian terror group and with a terror convict in Israel’s Ketziot Prison, making use of his permit to enter Israel, the prosecutor’s office said in a statement.

The charge sheet, filed with the Beersheba District Court, says Arafat transferred some NIS 100,000 ($28,500) from the Strip to the West Bank for Hamas, knowing it was intended for terror activity.

Arafat is charged of conspiring to commit a crime, violating a ban on using property for terror purposes, money laundering and other terror-related offenses, the statement said.

Hamas has ruled Gaza since seizing the territory from the rival Palestinian Authority in a bloody coup in 2007, though it also remains active in the PA-ruled West Bank. Hamas openly seeks Israel’s destruction and has launched tens of thousands of rockets at cities in the Jewish state, which maintains a blockade of Gaza to isolate the terror group.

Israel has reportedly been holding talks lately with Hamas over a potential deal to return two Israeli captives, Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed, and the bodies of two IDF soldiers being held in the Gaza Strip, Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul.

Israeli officials last month reportedly quietly confirmed that “significant” talks were underway with Hamas.

Clockwise from top left: Avera Mengistu, Hisham al-Sayed, Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul. (Flash 90/Times of Israel)

The government’s current chief negotiator for the release of Israelis held by the terror group updated families last week regarding the prisoner swap talks, while a senior Hamas official reacted Sunday to reported progress, saying the terror group was willing to “sacrifice everything” to win the release of its members from Israeli prisons.

But Maher Obeid, a member of the terror group’s political bureau, told the Hamas-affiliated daily al-Resalah that recent reports are just attempts by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to placate the “Zionist street” and the families of the civilians and fallen soldiers currently being held in Gaza.

While Hamas has in recent weeks expressed interest in reaching a deal, the terror group, which is the de facto ruler in the Strip and openly seeks Israel’s destruction, has said that in order for such a deal to take place, Israel must first release all teenage, female and elderly prisoners in addition to those who were rearrested after the 2011 Shalit deal, when more than 1,000 terror convicts were freed in exchange for a single IDF soldier.

After weeks of quiet, Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip fired a rocket into Israel early Wednesday that landed in an open area, causing no injuries or damage, the IDF said. In response, tanks shelled three Hamas military positions in the northern Gaza Strip, the army said.

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