Jerusalem – Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum yesterday said that as far as his organization is concerned the truce with Israel is over.

The reason, he said to Israeli television news Infolive.tv, is because Israel has not lived up to its commitments and because Israel has failed to open crossings into Gaza.

Mr. Barhoum described the reports of a mortar shell fired at the Karni crossing in north Gaza as pure Israeli propaganda.

However, The Sderot Information Center for the Western Negev Ltd. confirmed that all news agencies based in southern Israel did confirm the fact of a mortar shell attack that emanated from Gaza.

When asked if progress was being made regarding talks for the release of the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) POW Gilad Shalit, Mr. Barhoum said that negotiations with Egypt are at a standstill.

Israel Impounds Hamas Assets

Defense Minister Ehud Barak recently signed an order declaring 36 funds around the world, members of the “Union of Good” organization, to be banned associations in Israel since they are part of Hamas’ fundraising network, and both support and assist it.

The “Union of Good” is, in effect, an umbrella organization for foundations operated by Hamas around the world, especially in Europe and the Persian Gulf countries.

The “Union of Good” is composed of dozens of extremist Islamic foundations around the world. The WAMY is especially active in the Persian Gulf countries and in Africa. The activity of Hamas foundations in Europe are led by Interpal in the UK, branches of the Al-Aqsa Foundation and the Committee for Welfare and Aid for the Palestinians (CBSP) in France.

Dozens of foundations that are operated abroad by Hamas, most of which are members of the “Union of Good,” along with dozens of Hamas charitable associations active in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip, form a well organized and coordinated support network, that includes Hamas’ fundraising arm abroad and the vital civilian and infrastructure networks in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip. In this framework, tens of millions of dollars per annum are transferred from the overseas foundations to Hamas associations in the field.

Recently, it has become clear that Union-affiliated foundations are trying to raise funds not only for Hamas charitable associations in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip, but for the activities of the Hamas government as well.

Several steps have been taken so far, in Israel and abroad, against foundations, associations and activists connected to Hamas’ global fundraising network, including the banning of the Al-Aqsa Foundation in Germany and the Netherlands, the conviction of senior Islamic Movement officials over their links with the “Union for Good” and Hamas foundations, and the conviction of a Hamas-affiliated charity in A-Ram.

There is no doubt that this significant declaration will – in light of its scope – require the Israeli and world banking and financial systems to prepare accordingly and act with caution in order to avoid criminal actions or civil lawsuits by victims of terrorism, such as that against the Arab Bank, in the U.S.

Canadian Hezbollah Victims Bring Civil Action Against Lebanese Bank In Montreal

Canadian victims of Hezbollah terror attacks have filed a precedent-setting civil action in the Quebec Superior Court against the Lebanese-Canadian Bank (LCB) in Montreal. The plaintiffs, Yefet, Shoshana Sapir and Rochelle and Oz Shalmani, all of whom were injured in Northern Israel in Katyusha rocket attacks, allege that LCB unlawfully provided financial services to the Hezbollah terrorist organization by allowing charity groups affiliated with Hezbollah to transfer funds prior to and during the terrorist attacks on Israeli cities in 2006.

The lawsuit, filed yesterday, contends that since 2004, LCB permitted the Yousser Company for Finance and Investment and the and Martyrs Foundation, two Lebanese terrorist groups, to open and maintain accounts at LCB, and to freely transfer many millions of dollars of Hezbollah funds and to carry out millions of dollars in financial transactions, within and without Lebanon, by means of wire transfers, letters of credit, checks and credit cards provided by LCB. LCB, it is charged, facilitated Hezbollah’s terrorist activities and is liable to the plaintiffs for the harm that has been inflicted upon them and their families in the rockets attacks.

This is the first civil action brought by Canadian victims of Hezbollah’s rocket attacks in a Canadian court.

The families are represented by Montreal attorney Jeffrey Boro, Professor Ed Morgan of the University of Toronto’s International Law and Counter-Terrorism Project and attorney Nitsana Darshan-Leitner of Israel.

The plaintiffs claim that Hezbollah used the financial services which it was provided by LCB in order to build its terrorist infrastructure, to train, pay and equip its terrorist operatives, and to carry out terrorist attacks. LCB’s management, officers and employees had full knowledge that Yousser and Martyrs are part of Hezbollah’s financial arm and that the financial services were being provided to a violent terrorist organization.

Both Yousser and Martyrs have been designated by the U.S. Treasury as terrorist organizations. The fact that the two groups are part of Hezbollah’s financial arm is common knowledge in Lebanon.

American Jewish Congress Levels Terrorism Accusation Against UN Refugee Agency

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) refugee camps host Palestinian Arab refugees and descendants from the 1948 war, under the promise of the “right of return” to villages that they left in the course of the 1948 war which have been replaced by Israeli farms, cities and woodlands.

Taking back areas lost in 1948 represents the “raison d’etre” of UNRWA camp life.

In that context, terror cells abound in the UNRWA camps in Gaza which have fired more than 8,000 missiles at southern Israel since 2001 to achieve that very purpose – to regain lands lost in southern Israel in 1948.

Over the past few months, the American Jewish Congress has held UNRWA itself partially responsible for “feeding terrorists” and “violating American law.”

The American Jewish Congress officials has released its correspondence with UNRWA Commissioner-General Karen Koning AbuZayd that speaks for itself.

“Let’s be clear that we’re not playing ‘Gotcha!’ with UNRWA over food distribution,” said Vivien Weissman Howard, chair of AJCongress’ UN Task Force. “We do not want to see Palestinians go hungry. Our point is that if UNRWA, which is bound by both international and American law to refrain from handing out food to Palestinian fighters, cannot manage to distinguish between fighters and civilians, how does it expect Israel to distinguish from afar what UNRWA fails to distinguish up close?”

In a March 12 letter, AJCongress General Counsel Marc D. Stern asked Ms. AbuZayd “whether UNRWA had devised some method to distinguish civilians, who are qualified to receive food aid, from terrorists, who are not,” noting that “The Fourth Geneva Convention Articles 23 and 55 and Additional Protocol I, Articles 69 and 70 provide for passage of medical supplies and “essential foodstuffs” expressly for civilians only.”

Ms. AbuZayd replied on March 24 that UNRWA filed semi-annual reports with the U.S. State Department to ensure conformity of its operations with the requirements of Section 301(c) of the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act 1961, which states that American aid cannot be given to any refugee “who is receiving military training as a member of the so-called Palestine Liberation Army or any other guerrilla type organization or who has engaged in any act of terrorism.”

The United States government provides around 25 percent of UNRWA’s regular budget and 16 percent of its emergency requests.

It took AJCongress three months to obtain the UNRWA reports from the State Department.

When the American Jewish Congress finally perused these UNRWA reports, they were not pleased:

“In those reports, UNRWA dances around the problem with claims that it ‘did not face any situation in which an UNRWA beneficiary was found to have engaged in an act of terrorism or other inappropriate behavior ….'”

In May, for example, a Palestinian terrorist responsible for designing and firing missiles into Israel was killed by Israel. It turned out that for the last two years he had been a deputy headmaster at an UNRWA school in Gaza.

“UNRWA only ‘faced’ this situation in which an employee was routinely engaging in acts of terrorism after he was killed,” Ms. Weissman Howard said. “That’s ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ for you.”

“UNRWA would presumably enforce the rules if, for example, three rocket launchers walk into an UNRWA facility having just fired off rockets into Israel carrying guns and rocket launchers,” Ms. Weissman Howard said. “Short of that, they can work up a hunger firing rockets into Israel and then catch dinner over at the UNRWA center at the American taxpayer’s expense.”

The main point, Ms. Weissman-Howard said, is that “Just as it does not follow that this failure does not end UNWRA’s responsibility to feed Palestinians, so too it does not cancel out Israel’s right to self defense.”

In a June 19 letter, Mr. Stern said, “We think UNRWA should adopt steps to affirmatively search out those who ask UNRWA to feed them but who engage in attacks on civilians in Israel.” Mr. Stern added that, recognizing that “it may not be readily possible for UNRWA to detect who is actually participating in ‘military’ or ‘terror activities’ against Israel, it should stop demanding that Israel separate civilians from military personnel when it responds to attacks on its own civilians.”

David Bedein can be reached at dbedein@israelbehindthenews.com. His Web site is www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com

©The Bulletin 2008

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David Bedein is an MSW community organizer and an investigative journalist.   In 1987, Bedein established the Israel Resource News Agency at Beit Agron to accompany foreign journalists in their coverage of Israel, to balance the media lobbies established by the PLO and their allies.   Mr. Bedein has reported for news outlets such as CNN Radio, Makor Rishon, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, BBC and The Jerusalem Post, For four years, Mr. Bedein acted as the Middle East correspondent for The Philadelphia Bulletin, writing 1,062 articles until the newspaper ceased operation in 2010. Bedein has covered breaking Middle East negotiations in Oslo, Ottawa, Shepherdstown, The Wye Plantation, Annapolis, Geneva, Nicosia, Washington, D.C., London, Bonn, and Vienna. Bedein has overseen investigative studies of the Palestinian Authority, the Expulsion Process from Gush Katif and Samaria, The Peres Center for Peace, Peace Now, The International Center for Economic Cooperation of Yossi Beilin, the ISM, Adalah, and the New Israel Fund.   Since 2005, Bedein has also served as Director of the Center for Near East Policy Research.   A focus of the center's investigations is The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). In that context, Bedein authored Roadblock to Peace: How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict - UNRWA Policies Reconsidered, which caps Bedein's 28 years of investigations of UNRWA. The Center for Near East Policy Research has been instrumental in reaching elected officials, decision makers and journalists, commissioning studies, reports, news stories and films. In 2009, the center began decided to produce short movies, in addition to monographs, to film every aspect of UNRWA education in a clear and cogent fashion.   The center has so far produced seven short documentary pieces n UNRWA which have received international acclaim and recognition, showing how which UNRWA promotes anti-Semitism and incitement to violence in their education'   In sum, Bedein has pioneered The UNRWA Reform Initiative, a strategy which calls for donor nations to insist on reasonable reforms of UNRWA. Bedein and his team of experts provide timely briefings to members to legislative bodies world wide, bringing the results of his investigations to donor nations, while demanding reforms based on transparency, refugee resettlement and the demand that terrorists be removed from the UNRWA schools and UNRWA payroll.   Bedein's work can be found at: www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com and www.cfnepr.com. A new site,unrwa-monitor.com, will be launched very soon.

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