Despite pledging to donor nations that it would cease paying salaries to jailed terrorists, the Palestinian Authority has continued to so, the watchdog organization Palestinian Media Watch charged in a report last week.
After repeated complaints by the United States and European countries that its donations to the Palestinian Authority were being used to pay terrorists, PA President Mahmoud Abbas closed the Ministry of Prisoners’ Affairs and promised that future payments would come from a newly formed commission to be run by the PLO (though overseen by the same director as the PA ministry). But Palestinian Media Watch’s investigation alleged that the PA made a series of payments to the PLO for the likely purpose of facilitating terrorist payments.
The PA Ministry of Prisoners’ Affairs had a budget of 442 million Israeli shekels ($118 million) in 2014. After it was dissolved, the PA’s annual allotment to the PLO, previously 294 million shekels ($78 million), rose by 481 million shekels ($128 million) — enough to fund all the prisoner payments previously covered by the PA, plus a further ten percent.
The PA continues to receive around $1 billion in foreign aid every year.
Current and former Palestinian prisoners told The Daily Mail in March that their payments came directly from the Palestinian Authority. Ahmad Musa, who admitted to shooting two Israelis dead, said that he receives a monthly stipend of over $850. Musa was jailed for life for his crimes, but was freed after five years in an Israeli effort to restart peace talks with the PA.
Amjad and Hakim Awad, two cousins who in 2011 massacred five members of the Fogel family — parents Ehud and Ruth Fogel, 11-year-old Yoav, four-year-old Elad, and three-month-old Hadas — in their West Bank home, have been also been paid, according to The Daily Mail report. Amjad alone may have received more than £16,000 (nearly $23,000), according to estimates. (In 2012, PA television praised the cousins as “heroes.”)
Documents publicized by Israel Radio last October revealed that the PA is paying millions of dollars every months to Palestinians serving time in Israeli prisons — including members of the terrorist organization Hamas, the PA’s primary rival. Hamas bombmakers Abdullah Barghouti and Ibrahim Hamid, who have respectively received 67 and 54 life sentences for their involvement in some of the most devastating attacks of the Second Intifada, including at the Hebrew University cafeteria in 2002 and the Sbarro restaurant in Jerusalem in 2001, have each cumulatively received over 200,000 shekels ($53,000).
The Jerusalem Post, which reported on the documents obtained by Israel Radio, explained that the amount of money awarded to the terrorists correlates to the amount of time they’re serving in prison, meaning that “the more gruesome the terrorism, the more money will be paid.”
[While] knowledge of these payments is “nothing new,” it clearly shows that the PA provides economic incentives for carrying out terrorist acts. More than that, one source said, the fact that these funds are allocated for that purpose helps bolster the image of terrorists – or as the Palestinians often call them, “martyrs” – into heroes.
“It is a problem for the PA. On one hand they claim they want peace and discourage violence, and on the other hand they put terrorists on pedestals, idolize them as heroes, and provide meaningful financial incentives for others to follow their path,” the source said.
A 2014 report in The Telegraph showed that the PA used over $90 million in foreign aid from Great Britain to pay convicted terrorists the previous year. This equaled around 16% of all foreign aid payments to the PA.
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