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Israeli Soldiers Steal Millions of Shekels from Palestinians

by ISM Nablus

At around twelve o’clock on Tuesday night Israeli special forces entered four West Bank cities in a raid against money changers and banks. By four o’clock the military had left, with up to 6 million stolen shekels in their possession.

The Israeli military stole money from Jenin, Tulkarm, Ramallah and Nablus. In the latter, the Jordan National Bank and three private money changers were targeted. Unable to open the bank’s treasury, the Israeli forces stole around NIS 500,000 in total from three money changing enterprises and arrested one of the owners, 40 year-old Ghilab Swidan, from his home.

The three exchange shops are all badly damaged. After forcing and blowing open their doors with dynamite, the Israeli military proceeded to ransack the shops, throwing the contents of the offices onto the street outside. They then stole around NIS 250,000 from each in cash and checks, claiming to have information that this money was to be used to fund militant operations against Israel and to support Hamas.

The two money changers who escaped arrest are adamant that they know nothing about the intended usage of the money they handle. The Palestinian authorities do not know why precisely these companies were targeted but Palestinian police officer Hassan Meyrat says, “this is not the first time it has happened. Three years ago, the Arab Bank was raided and millions of shekels stolen.”

In that particular incident, the Israel National Treasury was forced to return most of the stolen money to the bank. This time, with several smaller companies targeted, it is not clear what will happen. The Jordan National Bank is, however, considering pressing charges against the Israeli army.

Although no money was taken from the three-storey Jordan National Bank, the damage sustained to it’s main office in Nablus city centre is extensive. The director of the bank, Abdul Latif Nasif, estimates the reparation costs to amount to around NIS 2 million. The stairway leading up to the office is strewn with glass, the remains of filing cabinets, window blinds and smashed computer screens. The Israeli military also broke most of the windows, punching holes in them for their snipers.

The Israeli military fired heavily throughout the city center during the entire operation, but no one was injured. Ghilad Swidan remains in Israeli custody.

As if economic sanctions and an economic blockade were not severe enough measures, the Israeli authorities have decided to raid some of the remaining sources of Palestinian capital on unsubstantiated allegations of ‘terrorism funding’.