Israel has targeted Islamic charities… in an effort to block financing to Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
Officials said the intelligence community has been identifying and tracking Islamic charities, known as Dawa, in the West Bank for their links to insurgency groups. They said several of the charities, which receive money from the West and the Arab world, have been shut down in 2006.
“Dawa charity institutes actively promote terrorism in Palestinian schools and communities,” a military statement said.
Officials said the charities, which receive millions of dollars annually, have financed and distributed audio-visual material that promote attacks against Israel and Jews. They said documents seized from some of the targeted charities outline their ties to insurgency activity.
“In recent months, Israeli security forces have been operating against the Hamas and Islamic Jihad terror infrastructures throughout the West Bank,” the statement said. “During this time, forces have confiscated material from dozens of structures and offices used by Dawa charity institutes affiliated with terror organizations. These materials — video footage, photographs and countless documents — show how these institutes disguise terror activity as charity work.”
Officials said the charities focus on funding the families of suicide bombers and detained insurgents. They said the financial support increases the incentive for Palestinians to join insurgency cells.
“The Dawa infrastructure is being used to transfer funds under the guise of charity to be used for terrorism, thus serving as a convenient apparatus for these purposes,” the military said.
Officials said the charities, buoyed by funding from Britain, Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, play a major role in recruitment for such groups as Hamas and Jihad. They said the charities organize kindergartens in which children are taught to hate Americans and Israelis.
Many of these charities also provide university scholarships to Hamas operatives. The funding also facilitated summer camps for Hamas and Jihad supporters.
Officials said the major charities in the West Bank include the Islamic Federation in Tubas. The organization was described as a Hamas front and supported by the Palestinian Authority as well as Israeli and foreign Islamic groups.
A major Hamas front in the southern West Bank was the Islamic Charity Association in Hebron. Officials said the group, funded mostly by Saudi Arabia, provides welfare and educational services to Hamas insurgents and their families.
The charities have also financed Hamas’s propaganda arm. The Mass Press Publicity Center, was said to have helped Hamas candidates for municipal and legislative elections over the last year. The center, which plans to establish a Hamas television station, also offers to train Palestinians in journalism and send students to study in Yemen.