update deskIsrael at War

IDF troops put in danger to retrieve millions for PA in Gaza

Some $55 million were seized and loaded into armored vans as part of the operation, military sources say.

Smoke rises during an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City, Oct. 7, 2023. Photo by Atia Mohammed/Flash90.
Smoke rises during an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City, Oct. 7, 2023. Photo by Atia Mohammed/Flash90.

Israel Defense Forces troops operating in Gaza were put in danger last week to retrieve millions intended for the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah.

Soldiers faced mortal danger, including from Hamas snipers, during the attack that focused on the Bank of Palestine branch in Gaza City’s Rimal neighborhood, Maariv reported on Sunday, citing military sources who asked to remain anonymous.

Some 200 million shekels ($55 million) were seized and loaded into armored vans as part of the operation, which sources said Jerusalem intends to transfer to the Palestinian Authority.

“The Israeli government is risking the lives of IDF soldiers to extract funds from Gaza and transfer them to the Palestinian Authority,” Yisrael Beiteinu Party leader Avigdor Liberman charged on Sunday.

“Instead of thinking about how to transfer the money to Ramallah, a simple decision should be made today—to take the money and use it for the benefit of evacuees in the south and north [of Israel],” tweeted Liberman.

According to an IDF statement cited by Maariv, the government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instructed the army to enter the bank last week in order “to prevent the Hamas terror organization from seizing funds and using them for terrorist purposes.

“The [military] activity was carried out in accordance with the directive of the political echelon, and how the money will be held and the destination to which it will be transferred is subject to this directive,” the army added.

The Biden administration wants the Palestinian Authority to take over the Gaza Strip after the war, a move that Israel has repeatedly rejected because of Ramallah’s overt support for terrorism.

Since Hamas’s Oct. 7 massacre in the northwestern Negev, the P.A. has added thousands of Palestinians to its list of people who qualify to receive monthly “pay for slay” stipends. P.A. officials announced that 3,550 additional terrorists will receive payouts.

In addition, a spokesman for P.A. chief Mahmoud Abbas has signaled Ramallah’s willingness to hand over the reins to Hamas once Israel’s ground operation against the terrorist group in Gaza concludes.

Late last month, Israel’s Security Cabinet approved a decision to freeze tax and tariff revenue from reaching the P.A. that the latter planned to send to Gaza. Instead, Jerusalem will channel the money to Norway for safekeeping.

The move, which enjoys U.S. backing, prevents Gaza-earmarked funds from reaching the P.A. “under any circumstances” unless approved by Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, the Prime Minister’s Office said.

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