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Counterfeiting on rise in Gaza, money changers say

Feb. 15, 2013 9:52 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 16, 2013 10:07 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) – Residents of the Gaza Strip repeatedly fall prey of fake banknotes both in Israeli shekels and in US dollars, smuggled from Egypt through tunnels or printed locally.

“Counterfeit NIS are easy to distinguish, but with US dollars it is not easy at all,” says Eid Jarousha, who works at a money changer’s shop.

He explained to Ma’an that 100-dollar bills, 200 NIS bills, 10 NIS and 5 NIS are the most popular fake currency in the Gaza Strip.

Osama al-Dabbagh, a manager at a company which supplies medical requirements says he is familiar with fake bills, and can recognize them, but he highlighted that many exchange these bills without noticing they are counterfeit.

“Money forgeries seriously harm the economy, and there should be considerable punishment to deter those who trade them,” said Muin Rajab. an economist from the Gaza Strip.

He highlighted that dealers and forgers should be targeted in order to reduce this phenomenon.

Surprisingly, security services in the Gaza Strip say there are only small amounts of counterfeit bills.

“We hunt down dealers of fake money part of which is smuggled through tunnels, especially the 10 NIS coins. We have seized a lot of this fake money,” says Ayman al-Batniji, a spokesman of the Gaza police.

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