(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Office)

The security forces and the customs authorities recently seized, at Ashdod port, containers than included merchandise worth tens of thousands of US dollars on suspicion that they were purchased with financing from Islamic Jihad and were for use by it. Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz signed the seizure order on 1 November 2005.

The seized goods had been sent to the Abu Akar company of Gaza, which deals in the importation of foodstuffs, and is headed by Faiz Abu Akar, a Khan Yunis businessman known for his links to terrorist organizations.

It is known that Islamic Jihad uses such methods to launder money in order to finance terrorist activities. The goods are purchased from international companies with funds from Islamic Jihad command centers abroad and are transferred to commercial companies in the Palestinian Authority (PA). Either the funds from the sale of the goods in the PA or the goods themselves are transferred to Islamic Jihad elements in the Palestinian areas.

In recent months there has been an upsurge in such activity both in light of Islamic Jihad’s success in perpetrating terrorist acts in Israel even during the tahdia (declared calm) and in order to establish its military and civilian infrastructures in the Palestinian areas.

These funds, estimated to be in the tens to hundreds of thousands of US dollars, have served the Islamic Jihad infrastructures in Tulkarm and Jenin in financing the 25 February 2005 suicide-bombing at a Tel Aviv nightclub, in which five people were murdered and approximately 50 were wounded; the 12 July 2005 suicide-bombing at the Sharon mall in Netanya, in which five people were murdered and approximately 90 were wounded; and the recent 26 October 2005 suicide-bombing at the Hadera market, in which six people were murdered and 55 were wounded.

The security forces and the customs authorities intend to tighten supervision over incoming merchandise as part of the struggle against terrorism financing.