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Tuesday, April 04, 2006

The Noose Tightens Around Hamas

The one thing our caretaker government and our national institutions seem to be doing well - probably because there is a national consensus about this - is tightening the noose around Hamas, at least to the extent that it is within Israel's control. Today, Israel's largest bank, Bank HaPoalim, announced that it will no longer deal with the Hamas-dominated Palestinian Authority.

Bank Hapoalim said in a statement that it made its decision after a review of local and international laws and "especially in light of the circumstances created." The statement did not say when the decision would go into effect, and a spokeswoman declined to elaborate.

The extent of the bank's ties with the Palestinian banks wasn't immediately known, but is believed to be significant. The Palestinian government does its local business in the Israeli currency, converting millions of dollars each month to pay its 140,000 employees.

And it's not just HaPoalim:

In a related matter, a former senior Palestinian official with knowledge of the situation said Arab banks have advised the Hamas-controlled Palestinian Authority to withdraw money from their accounts, fearing that Western countries will soon impose sanctions against the banks.

The United States and EU have branded Hamas a terrorist organization.

The official declined to be identified because he no longer holds a government position.

Also today, Israel stopped issuing VIP travel passes that allow 'Palestinian leaders' to travel between Gaza, and Judea and Samaria. There is one exception to that one: Mahmoud Abbas Abu Mazen.

With the establishment of the Hamas government, Israel no longer issues VIP free-travel cards to PA leaders who wish to travel between Gaza and Judea/Samaria. The IDF responds to Kassam rocket fire.

Arutz-7's Haggai Huberman reports that ever since 1993, the Palestinian Authority has applied for the travel permits for its legislature members and other senior figures. The VIP cards must be renewed every three months. This month, the first time the requests were made on behalf of a Hamas government, Israel did not approve, or even consider, any of the applications.

The only Palestinian Authority leader to retain VIP status is PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen).

For those who have never heard the story that follows, it's an Arafat classic (and well known here in Israel):

Israel's concern over PA leaders' travel goes back to July 1994, when Yasser Arafat himself smuggled four heavily wanted terrorists with him into Gaza. It was the first time Arafat was permitted into Gaza. As Barry Rubin, Director of the Global Research in International Affairs Center in Herzliya, later wrote, Arafat had received permission from then-Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin to bring dozens of "old friends" - wanted terrorists - into Gaza with him, but four terrorists who had committed the most heinous acts were kept out. In Rubin's words,

"...Arafat’s motorcade crossed from Egypt into the Gaza Strip. Israeli soldiers at the border were under strict instructions not to touch Arafat’s Mercedes or the accompanying cars, which then drove past the Mediterranean coast’s sand dunes to Gaza City. Early that evening, Arafat delivered a speech in Gaza City amid tens of thousands of people. Millions more around the world watched on television, including Rabin in his office. But his viewing was interrupted by an urgent phone call from [General Security Services head Yaakov] Peri who had just one thing to tell his boss: 'The bastard brought them in the trunk of his Mercedes.' Even after Israel accepted the return of thousands of Palestinian terrorists, soldiers and officials who had fought it, Arafat had just smuggled in the four forbidden men. When Rabin demanded that Arafat expel them, the Palestinian leader at first denied they were in Gaza, then sent them to Egypt but soon had them smuggled back." [The way I heard this story, there was one terrorist atop whom Arafat was sitting in his car when it entered Gaza that day. CiJ]

That wasn't the only time Arafat and his minions were involved in smuggling. Read the whole thing.

Meanwhile - get that little violin out - HaAretz reports that international aid organizations operating in the Gaza Strip have been paralyzed due to their employees' fears of maintaining ties with a Hamas-led Palestinian government.

Hundreds of local Palestinian employees of aid organizations dealing with food and health aid, headed by UNRWA, are refraining from Palestinian Authority officials since the Hamas-led government was sworn in.

The employees fear they will be blacklisted by Israel and the United States and are thus refraining from coordinating their humanitarian aid operations with the PA.

And the Karni crossing is being kept closed:

Israel will keep the Karni crossing closed on Tuesday, despite the warnings of United Nations aid organizations that the Gaza Strip is on the verge of a humanitarian disaster due to a lack of money and food.

Israeli officials have said the decision not to open the crossing was due to focused warnings of a terror attack.

Speaking to Haaretz on Tuesday, a senior Israeli source in Jerusalem quoted Israel's policy chief for the territories, Major General Yosef Mishlab as saying that there is no humanitarian crisis in the territories.

David Shearer, head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), told Foreign Ministry officials that if there is no significant change in the situation, Gaza will face a humanitarian crisis as bad as the one in Kosovo.

A report by the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) warns of a lack of basic food supplies due to the frequent closures of the Karni crossing that are preventing goods from reaching Gaza from Egypt. The report also said there has been a significant increase in the number of hungry people since financial aid has been halted.

World Bank statistics show that if there is no dramatic change, 75 percent of Palestinians will be below the poverty line within two years. The current rate is 56 percent, compared to 22 percent in 2000.

An Israeli security official said, "Israel is aware of the difficulties, and an effort is being made to find solutions without violating the decision not to be in contact with the Hamas government. The possibility of transferring funds via the office of the [Palestinian] presidency to the regional rulers who are directly subject to Abu Mazen is being examined.

"In such a situation," he continued, "a certain amount of contact will be maintained with the Palestinian security services by creating channels between the Israel Defense Forces and the national security. Israel is aware of the humanitarian problems and does not want such a crisis."
You can find all the latest statistics on how the 'Palestinians' are getting poorer here and here.


At 5:09 PM, Blogger Ayatollah Ghilmeini said...

Anything that makes the Palestinians pay a price for the genocidal desires is fine with me.

Unfortunately, there are just enough EU and Arab supporters to let the Palestinian enterprise collapse once and for all.

But the one thing that will not happen is an end to the chaos and an end to terror.

The really good news is the Palestinians now face the real consequences of their ideology. There economy was in the toilet before the Islamist "geniuses" came to power and will only get worse. Palestinians will soon experience the prosperity and growth seen in rural Yemen. All to the good. Couldn't happen to nice guys.


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