update deskIsrael-Palestinian Conflict

IDF soldier, Samaria resident accused of smuggling Palestinian workers into Israel

One of the dozens smuggled by the two was a terrorist released in the 2011 Shalit prisoner exchange deal with Hamas, according to the indictment.

Israel Defense Forces troops at the scene of a car-ramming attack at the Maccabim Crossing near Modiin in central Israel, Nov. 2, 2022. Photo by Flash90.
Israel Defense Forces troops at the scene of a car-ramming attack at the Maccabim Crossing near Modiin in central Israel, Nov. 2, 2022. Photo by Flash90.

An Israel Defense Forces conscript stands accused of illegally smuggling dozens of Palestinians from Judea and Samaria across the pre-1967 lines, including a terrorist released in the 2011 Shalit prisoner exchange deal with Hamas, according to an indictment made public on Tuesday.

The suspect, a 19-year-old soldier from the Jewish-Arab city of Ramle, operated the smuggling ring for financial gain, working together with a friend from Karnei Shomron in Samaria, 21, the Israel Police stated.

“The male suspect and female suspect, who is a soldier in the IDF, ‘took a risk’ on the security of the state during a war, and at a time when the security decisions required the state to stop bringing in foreign residents from Judea and Samaria who are employed in Israel,” police said.

“Out of greed, the defendants organized transportation to the territory of the country, during wartime, transporting many dozens whose background is unknown,” added the statement.

Authorities asked for the pair’s detention to be extended until the end of the court proceedings.

Israel’s Walla news site reported that the female soldier first came into contact with an illegal Palestinian worker while employed as a waitress at a restaurant in the central city of Rishon Letzion.

She allegedly began driving the worker, who was illegally employed as a chef, to work from his village in Judea and Samaria. After a while, the cook suggested that they work together to smuggle in other Palestinians as well, at which point the soldier recruited her friend from Samaria for the scheme.

On at least 30 occasions, the accused and her partner drove Palestinian infiltrators from a gas station on Route 443 through the Maccabim Crossing near Modi’in into central Israel, according to the indictment. During at least one of the trips, she was wearing an IDF uniform.

The Palestinian chef mediated between Palestinians who wished to cross into Israel and the two suspects, who received between 200 and 300 shekels ($53-$80) for each person they managed to smuggle in.

Police uncovered evidence of close cooperation between the soldier and her Palestinian partner, including messages in which addressed him by the nickname “Mamula” and complained about her commander.

In one message, she sent a photo of a Palestinian town and a sign that read, “This road leads to a Palestinian village, the entrance for Israeli citizens is dangerous,” adding, “Hahahahaha.”

Thousands of Palestinian workers are illegally crossing the Judea and Samaria security barrier every day to seek employment in Israel, in defiance of a blanket ban imposed in the wake of the Oct. 7 attack.

Earlier this month, a female IDF soldier who handled classified documents and was arrested after illegally visiting Ramallah in Samaria turned out to have been conducting a secret love affair with a Palestinian resident.

During interrogation by the IDF Military Police, the soldier initially claimed to have gone to Ramallah in an attempt to buy drugs, before admitting to having a relationship with a Palestinian man.

The pair had allegedly been dating for around a year, and had been meeting in Ramallah due to the P.A. resident being barred from entering Israel’s pre-1967 lines following the Oct. 7 massacre.

The army stressed that an initial probe found that the soldier had no intent to harm the state’s security.

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