Israel Arrests Gazan for Smuggling $Millions to Hamas


Gaza metal merchant with legal authorization to enter Israel confesses to smuggling large cash amounts to Hamas 

Suspect also sold metal components for the construction of military posts, tunnels & bunkers for Hamas.

By Lilach Shoval


The Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet), in cooperation with the Israel Police, recently arrested a Gaza metal merchant involved in transferring millions of dollars into the Gaza Strip and to Hamas. In addition, the man reportedly sold metal components to the Hamas military wing, used to build tunnels, military posts and bunkers.

Metals seized by the police, allegedly destined for Hamas use in the Gaza Strip. – Photo credit: Shin Bet security service

The merchant, Mahr Attiah Abed Abu Gabba, 41, was in possession of legal authorization to enter Israel, thanks to his profession. Abu Gabba was arrested at the Erez border crossing on the Gaza border, with 114,000 shekels in cash. The indictment filed against him later that month at a Beersheba district court included charges of funding terror and providing services to an illegal organization. The indictment was accompanied by a request to seize his assets, under the law prohibiting the funding of terror organizations.

During his interrogation, the suspect confessed to ongoing activity including transfer of funds to Hamas and selling massive amounts of metal to Hamas’ military wing. He said that since Hamas faced obstacles in bringing money into the Gaza Strip it took advantage of the nature of his business to transfer millions of dollars into the Hamas-ruled territory.

The ISA said that the money transfers were used to further Hamas’ interests, and that the suspect was fully aware of the money’s uses. In essence he played a key role in funding the organization. It said the money transfers were carried out in various methods, but the main method was the so-called “give-and-take method,” in which Hamas operatives overseas would transfer millions of dollars to Abu Gabba’s family in Egypt, ostensibly for the metal business, and Abu Gabba would transfer the same amount to Hamas representatives in Gaza. In this way, Hamas managed to secretly bring cash into the territory without hindrance.

According to Abu Gabba’s confession, ever since President Mohammed Morsi took power in Egypt, it had become easier for Hamas to transfer money into Gaza with operatives who entered Egypt through the Rafah border crossing, returning with briefcases full of cash.

On the sale of metal components, Abu Gabba confessed that he was in contact with high-ranking Hamas military wing officials. He revealed that some of the metal was used to build bunkers beneath mosques.

In October, the ISA seized some 3,000 tons of metal imported by Abu Gabba, some of which was intended for use in Gaza. In Israel, another 42 tons were seized.

The ISA said the capture of Abu Gabba served to shed light on several key security vulnerabilities, including Hamas’ utilization of Israeli policy granting entry into Israel to Gaza merchants. Such authorization allows these merchants free movement in and out of Israel on a daily basis. In addition, Israel’s policy of allowing metal for construction to be imported into Gaza led to some of the material being used by Hamas for military purposes.

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