Friday, April 11, 2014 • B 3 Cash-strapped Hamas Turns to E-bullets $4 Billion: Bogus Tax Refunds a Growing Problem BY IBRAHIM BARZAK Associated Press GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip • In a long hallway that looks more like a videogame arcade than a military base,Hamas security forces are holding target practice using assault rifles fitted with lasers — all without firing a bullet. For the cash-strapped Hamas government, the system is a much-needed money saver that eliminates the need to train with live ammunition, which is in short supply in Gaza.Hamas also says the quiet,indoor facility is less likely to attract the attention of the Israeli military than the open-air firing ranges that are frequently targeted in airstrikes. “Our training centers are targeted all the time by the occupation,so we have a closeddoor shooting range that is hidden from the occupation,” said Abdallah Karmot, the deputy director of training at Hamas’ Interior Ministry, which oversees security in the seaside strip of land.“We also save money and the time it takes to move officers to training camps for live shooting.” Karmot said Hamas developed the electronic shooting range with homegrown technology.The modified Kalashnikovs, powered by software developed by Hamas programmers, fire green laser beams at their targets, which mimic the sound of real rifle fire when there is a direct hit. The move indoors is the latest sign of the deep financial crisis plaguing Hamas, which BY ERIC TUCKER Associated Press ASSOCIATED PRESS Palestinian security officer Muhmmad Debo, 22, practices with an electronicallymodified AK-47 rifle at the headquarters of the security training department of the Hamas interior ministry in Gaza City, in the northern Gaza Strip, Thursday. is suffering its worst money woes and ammunition shortage since taking power. Israel and Egypt have maintained a blockade of the seaside strip since Hamas seized power from the rival forces of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in 2007. Israel considers Hamas a terrorist organization responsible for killing hundreds of Israelis in suicide bombings and other attacks. Israel and Hamas have engaged in heavy fighting over the years, most recently an eight-day battle in 2012 in which Hamas fired hundreds of rockets into Israel. Under the blockade, Egypt looked the other way for years as cement, fuel and weapons were smuggled into Gaza through a network of tunnels running under the border with Egypt. That changed last summer after the Egyptian military overthrew the country’s Islamist president,Mohammed Morsi. Egypt’s new military government cracked down on Hamas, the local offshoot of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood movement, and destroyed nearly all of the tunnels.With the tunnels out of operation, Hamas lost a key source of tax revenue and a main conduit for weapons. “Due to the Egyptian crackdown on the tunnels, we can talk about some sort of arms crisis facing all the armed groups in Gaza, as well as the security forces that used smuggled supplies in the past,” said Adnan Abu Amer, an expert on Palestinian militant groups at Gaza’s Al Ummah University. He said the prices of some weapons have nearly doubled in recent months,and the price of ammunition has tripled. “The most significant result of the tunnel demolitions has been the scarcity of weapons, ammunition and explosives,” he said. WASHINGTON • An Internet connection and a bunch of stolen identities are all it takes for crooks to collect billions of dollars in bogus federal tax refunds. And the scam is proving too pervasive to stop. A government report in November said the IRS issued $4 billion in fraudulent tax refunds over the previous year to criminals who were using other people’s personal information. Attorney General Eric Holder said this week that the “scale,scope and execution of these fraud schemes”has grown substantially and the Justice Department in the past year has charged 880 people. Who’s involved? In a video message released ahead of the April 15 tax filing deadline, Holder said the scams “are carried out by a variety of actors, from greedy tax return preparers to identity brokers who profit from the sale of personal information to gangs and drug rings looking for easy access to cash.” Even Holder isn’t immune. Two men pleaded guilty in Georgia last year to trying to get a tax refund by using his name, Social Security number and date of birth on tax forms. The IRS says it opened nearly 1,500 criminal investigations related to identity theft in fiscal year 2013,a 66 percent increase over the previous year, and has strengthened filters that help detect where the scams are coming from. It says it stops far more fraudulent refunds than it pays out and is making a dent in the problem. Still, the schemes have grown more sophisticated, attracting criminals with violent backgrounds who see an easy and safe vehicle for theft, according to law enforcement officials who fear that not enough controls are in place. “I’ve been on calls with Alabama, Chicago, some other field divisions, where they’re now experiencing people who were from Florida and now moving to other states to conduct this same type of fraud,” said FBI Supervisory Special Agent Jay Bernardo, who works fraud cases in south Florida. “Based on the parameters that are in place now,” he added, “it’s very difficult to stop.” OBITUARIES SERVICES Marianne Edna Fisher Donna Norton Okelberry WENDELL • Marianne Edna Fisher, 94, a resident of Wendell, passed away Wednesday, April 9, 2014, at the North Canyon Medical Center in Gooding. Marianne was born Feb. 20,1920,to Lola Mae and Alva Emerick in Hillsboro,Ore. They moved to Huntington, Ore., in 1928, where she attended elementary school and completed three years of high school. They then moved to Twin Falls, Idaho, where she completed high school in 1938. After high school, she attended and graduated from beauty school in Twin Falls. In 1940, she moved to Portland, Ore., and married Earl Oney. They were divorced in 1947. In 1950, she married Willard A. Berry. Willard passed in 1968. In 1971,she married Wendelin F. Fisher,who passed in 1971. Marianneissurvivedby:her daughter, Penelope (Rick) Cheek and son,Patrick (Jodi) Berry; two grandchildren, Ronald and Cristianna; one step-grandchild, Brenda; great-grandchildren, Arron, Aleshia and Andrya LaFleur, Tiffany, Courtney, Timothy, Emery and Naomi Palm,and SALT LAKE CITY, Utah • Another great lady has left this life for a better one. Donna Norton Okelberry of Declo, Idaho, quietly passed away at her son’s home in Salt Lake City, Utah, on Monday, April 7, 2014. She was born Nov. 7, 1927, in Zurich, Mont. On July 16, 1947, she married Myron D. Okelberry in the Idaho Falls Temple. They had eight children. Family was her greatest treasure. She worked for several years at Simplot Potato Plant in Heyburn, Idaho. She served a full-time LDS service mission at Deseret Industries. She was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and, for more than 30 years, served in various callings, including touching the lives of many children in the Primary. She loved to crochet and shared that talent with others. She made many treasures for her children and grandchildren, as well as some charities. She made many booties for Birthright. Donna had the privilege Feb. 20, 1920-April 9, 2014 Alexandria Estes; one step great-granddaughter,Areena Campos;andnumerousnieces andnephews.Shewasprecededindeathbyherparents;husbands; and two grandchildren, Vicki and Tomas. She was a 25-year member of the Rockaway Beach Lioness Club, earning many awards.She was a resident of Rockaway Beach, Ore., for 30-plus years before moving to Wendell,Idaho,in 2009. At Marianne’s request, no public service is planned. Arrangements are under the care and direction of Demaray Funeral Service,Wendell Chapel. Condolences may be sent to the family by visiting the obituary link at www.demarayfuneralservice.com. Nov. 7, 1927-April 7, 2014 Wilma Ilene Gribble of Gooding, funeral at 2 p.m. today, April 11, at Demaray Funeral Service, Gooding Chapel; visitation from 1-2 p.m. today at the funeral chapel. of making altar covers for the Idaho Falls and Boise temples. She is survived by her eight children, 24 grandchildren, 28 great-grandchildren, one brother and two sisters. She was preceded in death by her husband, parents, two sisters, one brother and three grandchildren. A service will be held at 11 a.m. Monday, April 14, at the Declo LDS Stake Center, 213 W. Main St. in Declo, Idaho. Viewings will be held from 7-9 p.m. Sunday, April 13, at Hansen Mortuary, 710 Sixth St. in Rupert, Idaho, and 9:3010:45 a.m. Monday at the church. DEATH NOTICES Lowell Christensen RUPERT • Lowell Blaine “Chris” Christensen, 74, of Rupert, died Thursday, April 10, 2014, at his home. The funeral will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday, April 15, at the Rupert LDS Stake Center, 324 E. 18th St. in Rupert; visitation from 6-8 p.m. Monday, April 14, at the Hansen Mortuary, 710 Sixth St. in Rupert, and one hour before the funeral Tuesday at the church (Joel Heward Hansen Mortuary). Barbara Riffey Marjorie Schmoe Merlin Leavitt HOLLISTER • Barbara Jean Riffey, 76, of Hollister, died Wednesday, April 9, 2014. Arrangements will be announced by Parke’s Magic Valley Funeral Home of Twin Falls. FILER • Marjorie Schmoe, 88, Filer, died Thursday, April 10, 2014. Arrangements will be announced by Parke’s Magic Valley Funeral Home of Twin Falls. Elinor Smith Dianna Serr Sidney Vipperman TWIN FALLS • Elinor “Lee” Smith, 81, of Twin Falls, died Wednesday, April 9, 2014. Arrangements will be announced by Parke’s Magic Valley Funeral Home of Twin Falls. WENDELL • Dianna Elizabeth Serr, 61, of Wendell, died Thursday, April 10, 2014, at her home. Arrangements will be announced by Demaray Funeral Service, Wendell Chapel. TWIN FALLS • Sidney Lee “Vip” Vipperman, 73, of Twin Falls, died Wednesday, April 9, 2014, at his home. Arrangements will be announced by White Mortuary in Twin Falls. SUBMITTING OBITUARIES For obituary rates and information, call 735-3266 Monday through Saturday. Deadline is 3 p.m. for next-day publication. The email address for obituaries is [email protected] Death notices are a free service and can be placed until 4 p.m. every day. To view or submit obituaries online, or to place a message in an individual online guestbook, go to www.magicvalley.com and click on “Obituaries.” Bryan B. Reid of Price, Utah, and formerly of Jerome, burial at 2 p.m. today, April 11, in the Jerome Cemetery in Jerome. JEROME • Merlin H.Leavitt, 95, of Jerome, died Wednesday,April 9,2014,at his home. Arrangements will be announced by Farnsworth Mortuary of Jerome. READ TOMORROW’S OBITUARIES TODAY @MAGICVALLEY.COM Read obituaries before they appear in the paper. Tomorrow’s obituaries appear online at 7 p.m. every evening. Michael Ross Benson of Twin Falls, memorial service at 11 a.m. today, April 11, at the Harrison Street LDS Church, 667 Harrison St. in Twin Falls; inurnment at 3 p.m. today in the Pleasant View Cemetery in Burley (Rosenau Funeral Home in Twin Falls). Stake Center, 2050 Normal Ave. in Burley; visitation from 6-8 p.m. today, April 11, at the Rasmussen Funeral Home, 1350 E. 16th St. in Burley, and 1010:45 a.m. Saturday at the church. Roderick Kervin “Rick” Rynders of Buhl, memorial service at 11 a.m. Saturday, April 12, at the Buhl LDS Church, 501 Main St.; luncheon follows at the Clear Lakes Country Club (Farnsworth Mortuary of Jerome). Julia Hall Dixon of Salt Lake City, Utah, and formerly of Jerome, funeral at 11 a.m. Saturday, April 12, at the Salt Lake Ensign Stake Center, 135 “A” St. in Salt Lake City, Utah; visitation one hour before the funeral at the church (Larkin Mortuary in Salt Lake City, Utah). Charles Richard “Chuck” Lynch of Hawthorne, Nev., and formerly of Jerome, funeral at 11 a.m. today, April 11, at the Snake River Elks Lodge, 412 E. 200 S. of Jerome; visitation one hour before the funeral today at the Elks Lodge (Farnsworth Mortuary of Jerome). Gary Wayne Tucker of Twin Falls, celebration of life at 1 p.m. Saturday, April 12, at Rosenau Funeral Home, 2826 Addison Ave. E. in Twin Falls. Robert “Brad” Baugh of Buhl, celebration of life at 4:30 p.m. today, April 11, at Rosenau Funeral Home, 2826 Addison Ave. E. in Twin Falls. Martha Rose Byington of Hailey, memorial service at 1 p.m. Saturday, April 12, at the Community Campus in Hailey (Wood River Funeral Chapel in Hailey). Irene D. Meyer Adolf of Buhl, funeral at 10 a.m. Saturday, April 12, at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Buhl (Farmer Funeral Chapel in Buhl). Roberta Frances Harding of Jerome, funeral at 2 p.m. Saturday, April 12, at Farnsworth Mortuary, 1343 S. Lincoln in Jerome; visitation from 6-8 p.m. today, April 11, and one hour before the funeral Saturday at the mortuary. Alice Marie Ireton McCurdy Garnand of Gooding, funeral at 10 a.m. Saturday, April 12, at the LDS Church in Gooding; visitation from 5-7 p.m. today, April 11, at Demaray Funeral Service, Gooding Chapel and beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday at the church. Jessie Gene Woodland of Blackfoot, funeral at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, April 12, at Hawker Funeral Home, 132 S. Schilling Ave. in Blackfoot; visitation from 6-8 p.m. today, April 11, and one hour before the funeral Saturday at the funeral home. Ezra Earl (Bud) Davidson, formerly of Burley, funeral at 11 a.m. Saturday, April 12, at the Burley LDS Helen M. Lyon of Buhl, celebration of life memorial service at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, April 12, at the Buhl Senior Center. Margaret McCaughey of Jerome, funeral Mass at 10 a.m. Monday, April 14, at St. Jerome Catholic Church, 219 Second Ave. E. in Jerome; vigil with rosary at 7 p.m. Sunday, April 13, at the church (Farnsworth Mortuary of Jerome). Arthur Kenneth Edwards of Twin Falls, memorial service at 2 p.m. Wednesday, April 16, at Rosenau Funeral Home, 2826 Addison Ave. E. in Twin Falls.
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