Two Israelis have been charged with kidnapping for the purpose of extortion or murder on Sunday after they allegedly aided Hamas operatives in blackmailing a relative of an Eritrean man abducted in Sinai.
Yaakov Grad, 43, of Kfar Yona and Eliran Moshe, 25, of Netanya are being indicted at the Jerusalem District Court. Two other Netanya residents have been arrested in connection with the case.
According to the indictment, an Eritrean migrant who was taken captive in Sinai called an uncle who resides in Israel and told him his abductors threatened to kill him if they weren’t paid a $20,000 ransom. The uncle initially said he could not pay the amount, but later settled with the captors on a reduced sum of $13,000. He was asked to arrive with the money at a meeting point in Tel Aviv.
Grad was contacted on August 25 by longtime acquaintance and Hamas operative Amad Abu-Arar, who asked him to collect the ransom. Abu-Arar, a Gaza resident, evidently made it clear that the captive was not held within Israeli territory.
Grad and Moshe, both of whom have criminal records, set out on the mission along with another man. The uncle at first refused to part with the money upon meeting them, but handed it over after a phone conversation with his nephew.
A few days later the duo traveled to east Jerusalem, where they met with another Hamas operative, Luai Naser al-Din, who received the funds. Attorney Lea Tsemel, who represents al-Din, said her client denies involvement in the case, but he was nevertheless remanded for five days.
‘Grad acted in good faith’
The prosecutors asserted that Grad knew that the transaction was shady, and received a fee of up to NIS 2,000 (roughly $512). They motioned the two Israelis should be kept in custody pending the conclusion of the trial, suggesting that they have evidence proving the defendants’ guilt.
Attorney Boaz Kenig, who represents Grad, said Abu-Arar owed his client NIS 1,500 ($385), and that the latter was acting in good faith believing he was going to be paid back. Grad was unaware that his acquaintance belonged to Hamas, Kenig said.
A third Israeli man, Victor Siboni, 50, was charged with being an accessory to a crime. According to the indictment he was involved in a money laundering scheme that allowed Abu-Arar to transfer tens of thousands of dollars in undocumented funds from Gaza to Israel, via Sudanese migrants.
Source: Ynet News