The family that runs Duty-Free Americas donated at least $5.6 million to groups responsible for building illegal settlements in occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, according to a report by the Associated Press Monday, says Anadolu Agency.
The Falic family of Florida, who runs the chain of Duty-Free Americas stores, are running a significant charitable operation in Israel by funding Israeli occupation of the West Bank.
The chain of stories is headed by three Falic brothers: Jerome, Leon, and Simon. They have 180 stores at airports and border crossings in the US and Latin America.
The Falics donated $600,000 to the group “Hachnasat Orchim Hebron”, who host visitors to the Jewish community, have donated more money than any other group to Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu, and have supported groups pushing for a “Third Temple” at the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex in the old city of Jerusalem.
The site is one of the most contested in Jerusalem.
Simon confirmed to AP that the family does support the groups mentioned, however, that those groups are not violating any Israeli law and condemned violence.
“We are proud to support organizations that help promote Jewish life all over the Land of Israel,” Falic said.
“The idea that the mere existence of Jewish life in any geographical area is an impediment to peace makes no sense to us.”
The Falic family has two main charitable organizations, the Falic Family Private Foundation based out of the US and the Segal Foundation in Israel. The US foundation distributed $20m to “various worldwide Jewish organizations”, according to tax filings obtained by AP.
“The Falics back Jewish groups that covertly buy up Palestinian properties in occupied East Jerusalem, and they helped develop an unauthorised settlement outpost in the occupied West Bank,” the report read.
The settlement was later legalized retroactively.
Since the 1967 war, when Israel occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem, the settler population has risen to 700,000 people, which is around 10% of Israel’s Jewish population.
US President Donald Trump’s tolerant attitude towards settlements has made it easier for the pro-settlement government of Israel to continue to build on occupied land.
Israel honoured Trump by naming a small settlement in the Golan Heights after him, following Trump’s announcement to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the occupied land.