A combined effort of the Shin Bet (Israel’s domestic intelligence agency) and Israel’s agencies for fighting drug dealing and international crime led to the confiscations at the Ashdod port. The agencies tipped off Israeli customs that the Abu Achbar company was importing the goods under the names of two other Gaza firms, Rio and the Hani Sa’adallah Shaldan company.
Under the terms of the Oslo accords, all imports to the Palestinian Authority from abroad must pass through Israeli ports.
Israeli authorities have been following the dealings of Abu Achbar for a number of years. The company’s commercial activities have been a leading source of funding for the Hamas and the Islamic Jihad.
Abu Achbar worked by arranging for Hamas and Islamic Jihad supporters abroad to pay for goods to be shipped to areas controlled by the PA in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza (Yesha). Once in their hands, the Hamas and Islamic Jihad used the goods to pay for their operations in Yesha, including carrying out acts of terrorism against Israelis. Later on, the company refunded money to the terror groups, while retaining a commission for its efforts.
Importing pre-paid-for goods became the groups’ method of circumventing Israel’s controls preventing monetary transfers to terrorist groups.
While previous shipments by Abu Achbar have been seized by Israeli customs, the threat of losing more goods to confiscation failed to deter the company from continuing to front for the terror groups. Since being classified as unlawful, any property belonging to the company can be seized by Israeli authorities.
The use of ostensibly legitimate businesses has become one of the major vehicles for funneling money to Arab terrorist groups in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza.