IDF clears Ramallah bank of terror involvement

April 13, 2010
Yuval Azoulay

Six years after Israeli security forces raided the Arab Bank’s Ramallah branch and confiscated funds, the Israel Defense Forces cleared the bank and its workers of any involvement in terror, Haaretz has learned.

The IDF’s statement, which was sent to the bank in September 2009, could help the bank management ward off a massive lawsuit filed by hundreds of Israeli terror victims and their families in a New York federal court, a legal source close to the Arab Bank told Haaretz yesterday.

The plaintiffs are demanding compensation from the Arab Bank, which they say handled funds for terror attacks against Israelis.

The Arab Bank may ask that the suit be thrown out on the basis of the IDF’s statement, the source said.

IDF special troops, assisted by police and Shin Bet forces, raided the Arab Bank branch on February 26, 2004, seizing NIS 40 million from the accounts of 50 charities, as well as bank records.

Israel claimed the money came from Syria, Lebanon and Iran and was intended for terror groups including Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades.

That day Israeli forces also raided three other banks, including two branches of the Cairo-Amman Bank, as part of a move to take out terror groups’ funding sources.

After the raid, the United States said Israel’s seizure could destabilize the Palestinian banking system, and reiterated its call for Israel to coordinate such moves with the Palestinian financial authorities…

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