update deskIsrael News

Crowdfunding platforms delete appeals for sanctioned ‘settlers’

This month, Biden issued an order targeting "persons undermining peace, security and stability" in Judea and Samaria.

Yinon Levi, sanctioned by the United States, attends an Economic Committee meeting at the Knesset in Jerusalem, Feb. 14, 2024. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.
Yinon Levi, sanctioned by the United States, attends an Economic Committee meeting at the Knesset in Jerusalem, Feb. 14, 2024. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.

Three online fundraising campaigns in support of Israeli citizens sanctioned by the Biden administration for “undermining peace” in Judea and Samaria were taken down following an Associated Press investigation, the news agency reported over the weekend.

Israeli crowdfunding platform Givechak closed down an appeal for Yinon Levi, a farmer in the South Hebron Hills of Judea, according to the report. Before the fundraiser was taken down, more than 3,000 donors worldwide had contributed over $140,000 for Levi and his farm.

After AP requested comment from Givechak, Levi’s page was deleted, and the transfer of the money was put on hold. According to legal documents shared with the outlet, Levi’s family has filed a lawsuit to try to release the funds.

JGive, a Jerusalem-based crowdfunding website for nonprofits, likewise took down a campaign for Levi over the weekend, telling AP it had “blocked donations in compliance with the sanctions order.”

Meanwhile, New York-based Charidy.com deleted a $31,000 fundraiser for David Chai Chasdai, another Israeli sanctioned by the United States.

Earlier this month, U.S. President Joe Biden issued an executive order targeting “persons undermining peace, security and stability” in Judea and Samaria, citing “high levels of extremist settler violence, forced displacement of people and villages and property destruction.”

The White House named four Israeli Jews as the targets of sanctions: Yinon Levi of Meitarim Farm; David Chai Chasdai of Givat Ronen; Einan Tanjil of Kiryat Ekron; and Shalom Zicherman of Mitzpe Yair.

Faced with the prospect of being cut off from the U.S. monetary system, Bank Leumi—Israel’s largest bank—subsequently informed Levi that his accounts would be suspended. Chasdai had his account at the state-owned Postal Bank frozen, while reports indicated that Tanjil’s and Zicherman’s accounts at Bank Hapoalim would follow shortly.

On Feb. 14, the Honenu legal defense group announced its lawyers had sent a “warning letter” to the Bank of Israel on behalf of the four families, demanding that the supervisor order financial institutions to “immediately remove all restrictions that were imposed.”

In the letter, Honenu stressed that Israeli banks have discretionary powers in individual cases and must examine the “unique and particular circumstances” of their customers before acting upon sanctions imposed by foreign countries.

Honenu vowed to “stand alongside these heroes who were hurt by the visceral hatred for the settlement” of Judea and Samaria.

“Our appeal to the supervisor is the first action within the framework of the legal procedures that we intend to take, as long as the cardinal damage is not rectified,” the organization said.

On Feb. 14, Israeli lawmaker Amit Halevi summoned a meeting of the Knesset Economic Affairs Committee on Wednesday to explore ways Jerusalem can come to the aid of citizens who face sanctions.

“If the issue cannot be solved through political channels and if the regulator, the Bank of Israel, does not put out clear instructions, we suggest a new law. In these cases—when there are sanctions of foreign states of Israeli citizens—we must back those citizens,” Halevi told JNS.

One of the options suggested by coalition lawmakers entails the Israeli government providing an open-ended loan to affected families.

“We’re not talking about sanctions against businessmen that have billions, like [tycoon Roman] Abramovich, because he did business with Russia; we’re talking about simple families that work in agriculture. We must defend their right to live,” said Halevi.

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