Fourteen Israelis were arrested on Monday following an undercover investigation into the issuance of illegal entry permits for Palestinian Authority Arabs.
Judea and Samaria District central unit police officers and detectives conducted the probe over the past year in cooperation with Military Police investigators and the Israel Tax Authority’s enforcement unit.
The suspects include several active and retired Israel Defense Forces officers and soldiers. They are suspected of issuing entry permits to Palestinians “on a large scale” in exchange for money.
It was revealed during the investigation that the main suspect, a 53-year-old resident of Sakhnin, an Arab city in the Lower Galilee, traded entry permits for payment through his son, a soldier serving at the Sha’ar Ephraim goods passage to Samaria, located some 12 miles east of Netanya.
“The permits were given under the pretext of entry into Israel for agricultural work in the seam zone [east of the Green Line and west of the Judea and Samaria security barrier]. The investigation also revealed that the suspect operated a network of Palestinian and Israeli intermediaries whose job it was to locate Palestinians interested in entry permits to Israel and collect payment from them,” the statement read.
The houses of the suspects were raided on Monday morning with assistance from Defense Ministry investigators and the arrests were made. They face charges of receiving articles fraudulently, bribery and collusion in the bribery of a public servant, violation of the prohibition of money laundering, and extortion using threats.
Depending on what is found through the interrogations, the detainees were scheduled to be brought to the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court for arraignment.
Palestinian laborers from Judea and Samaria should not be allowed to return to work inside Israel’s pre-1967 lines, a dozen Likud lawmakers wrote in a letter to Cabinet members made public last week.
“The time has come to say explicitly that no more Palestinian workers will be allowed to enter Israel,” read the letter, which received backing from Economy Minister Nir Barkat and Diaspora Affairs Minister Amichai Chikli.
“Besides our security obligation, we also have a moral duty—we are not responsible for the livelihood of those who support the murder of Jews in the Land of Israel,” added the missive, noting that some three in four Arab residents of Judea and Samaria hold favorable views of Hamas in the wake of its Oct. 7 massacre of around 1,200 people in Israel.