Israel thwarts Hamas on the financial battlefield

Published date19 November 2023
AuthorEla Levi-Weinrib
Publication titleGlobes (Rishon LeZion, Israel)
"We are talking about a matter of minutes here. From the moment the authorities in Europe received the information, and we requested the money be blocked, with no court orders or delay, they blocked the transfer of millions of dollars to one of the most active organizations, and from it to Hamas. This is a real-time deterrence," reveals IMPA director general Adv. Ilit Ostrovitch-Levi. "And then there was a domino effect. Following this blocking, more countries began to look around, and blocked funds intended for terror. All this information, which is now shared at an international level, leads to the closing of more and more Hamas funding pipelines, in real time. With worldwide cooperation, Israel's security and enforcement authorities are thwarting the transfer of millions of dollars earmarked for terrorism, every day."

Headed by Ostrovitch-Levi since May 2022, IMPA is an intelligence body that conducts the most complex of international economic investigations, and fights terror financing routinely. On October 7, Ostrovitch-Levi received a painful reminder of the vital importance of her work. "Already on that Saturday night, with Israeli under heavy rocket fire, we talked about preparing ourselves for the campaign we're now entering, the fight against terror financing channels. Dozens of our staff have been called up to reserve duty, in large part managers working regularly in the fight against terror financing."

Since then, most of IMPA's work has focused on identifying and blocking the terror money pipelines. "We work very reactively - we see a fundraising campaign, try to deter it, and stop it from happening again. There are no breaks, because they are constantly active. It's a daily struggle. Our analysts have been sitting on the social networks from day two of the war, just manually monitoring visible sources of information on these networks to locate fundraising campaigns for terrorist organizations operating in Gaza."

Three days after the war began, IMPA also issued a call to all global regulated entities for increased vigilance towards terrorism financing campaigns in response to the ongoing war and state of emergency, and to report all activities that raise suspicion of terror support and terror financing, in an effective and immediate manner.

"Overnight, we started receiving hundreds of reports about unusual activity by customers of financial institutions in the State of Israel," she says. Before October 7, IMPA received about 100 reports a day dealing with terror financing. That number jumped to about 1,000. "There is a 900% increase in reports on terror financing, and we don't waste time, everything happens very, very quickly. As we receive the information, we simultaneously pass it on to the operational professionals who locate the money pipelines, and block them. Some information will not necessarily lead to terror financing, but we don't have time to waste. Bank CEOs call and draw our attention to the information they convey to us that warrants special attention."

Has information from banks and financial institutions led to blocking the money pipeline for terrorism?

"There was very high-quality intelligence that we passed on to the security agencies. We don't always know the results."

"Gaza could be more beautiful than Dubai "

The network to block terror financing funds includes many entities, including private citizens. "The world's financial intelligence authorities are now at the heart of this struggle, and we're working together to thwart the financing channels that we've located. In addition, we've been approached by many experts from...

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