update deskIsrael News

Israel moving to close terror-linked Ra’am charities

The Ra'am Party played a central role in the Bennett-Lapid government.

Ra'am Party Chairman Mansour Abbas in the plenary hall of the Knesset in Jerusalem, June 13, 2022. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.
Ra'am Party Chairman Mansour Abbas in the plenary hall of the Knesset in Jerusalem, June 13, 2022. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.

Israel’s Justice Ministry has initiated the process to close down two nonprofits controlled by the Islamist Ra’am Party due to their alleged financing of Hamas terrorism.

Igatha 48 (“Aid 48”) and the Association for Humanitarian Actions are both fundraising arms of the Southern Branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, of which the Ra’am Party is the political wing. (“Ra’am” is the Hebrew acronym by which the United Arab List is commonly known.)

According to the Justice Ministry, an investigation found reason to believe that the NGOs illegally “transferred funds or cooperated with organizations outside of Israel that were declared as terrorist groups,” Kan News reported on Tuesday.

“The Registrar of Associations Unit has decided to refuse the requests of the associations to be granted a certificate of proper management for 2024,” the ministry’s Corporations Authority said.

“The associations were given the opportunity to respond to the findings detailed in the report and to the notice given in their case by May 6. If they fail to do so, the Registrar will apply to the court for an order to dissolve the associations,” the statement continued.

According to an investigation published in February, Igatha 48 transferred large sums to and carried out joint activities with a Turkish organization called Khir Ummah, which serves as a Hamas front group.

Between 2020 and 2023, Igatha 48 transferred more than $580,000 to Khir Ummah, and the two organizations hosted pro-terrorism summer programs for children in Turkey, the HaKol HaYehudi outlet revealed.

In response to the exposé, Bank Leumi—Israel’s largest bank—froze Igatha 48’s accounts. Last week, a Tel Aviv court rejected a request to unfreeze the accounts, ruling that the bank had presented sufficient evidence substantiating the alleged ties to terrorism.

The Ra’am charity acknowledged in court that close to 10 banks had refused to open accounts for it before it applied to Bank Leumi.

During a Knesset National Security Committee meeting earlier this month, a HaKol HaYehudi reporter told lawmakers that “the materials that we found and compiled in a special research report are from open sources.

“Either the Israel Security Agency [the Shin Bet] and the police do not notice these things—this would be a major omission—or they located the materials but protected Ra’am’s people, and no investigations were opened against Ra’am’s senior officials and Igatha 48,” charged Yehuda Perl.

The Ra’am Party enabled the Bennett-Lapid government, which served in 2021 and 2022, to have a Knesset majority, marking the first time an independent Arab party joined an Israeli governing coalition.

Responding to Tuesday’s news, Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich noted on X that he had “warned and cried out about the connection between the Ra’am Party and [its chairman] Mansour Abbas and terrorism, a connection that today receives official confirmation.

“We knew about it for sure and based our opposition to the establishment of a government that relies on them,” added the Religious Zionism Party leader.

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