A Palestinian man named Sufian Abdu has been re-arrested for incitement on Thursday, just three days after being released from an Israeli prison after completing a 14-year sentence. Israeli public radio said he was taken back into custody for “waving Hamas flags” and “voicing calls to violence and incitement against Israel.” He was originally arrested for plotting to poison diners at an Israeli restaurant.
Abdu’s re-arrest raises key questions about the nature of prisoner releases under the Palestinian Authority. Many convicted Palestinian terrorists receive salaries and stipends for their families from the PA as a reward for their crimes. “[T]he more serious the act of terrorism, the longer the prison sentence, and consequently, the higher the salary” the convicted terrorist will receive from the PA, Edwin Black explained in the Guardian in 2013. House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) referred to this program as “pay to slay” during a Capitol Hill hearing last month.
Once released, many prisoners revert back to terrorism; Abdu is certainly not the first. Nearly half of the 13,000 terrorists Israel has released since 1985 have reportedly returned to the battlefield. There is even a special unit within Hamas consisting entirely of released prisoners—it is responsible for carrying out deadly attacks against civilians.
Yigal Carmon, president and founder of the Middle East Media Research Institute, testified at last month’s Capitol Hill hearing that the PA provides around $300 million per year to terrorists and their families. This violates the Oslo Accords, in which the Palestinian leadership committed to halting terrorist activity. According to a recent report on Israel Radio, most prisoners in Israeli jails who receive PA money are Hamas members who were responsible for some of the bloodiest terrorist attacks of the Second Intifada.
Eli Lake wrote in Bloomberg News in July that the practice of paying families of terrorists who were jailed by Israel or died as “martyrs” goes back to the 1990’s and was formalized during the Second Intifada between 2000 and 2005. “Israelis even found documents in the late Yasser Arafat’s compound that showed payments to families of suicide bombers,” Lake added.
Muhammad Nasser Tarayrah, who killed American-Israeli teenager Hallel Yaffa Ariel before being fatally shot by Israeli security forces in June, was called a “martyr” by the PA. Tarayrah’s mother expressed her pride in her son’s actions. “If the past is precedent,” Lake wrote, “she will receive a steady check to honor her son’s murder of a 13-year-old Jewish girl in her sleep.”
Criticism of the PA’s terrorist payment policy has grown in recent months. The Mail on Sunday reported in March that the PA was continuing to use British foreign aid money to pay terrorists’ salaries despite having promised to stop. Several weeks later, the watchdog group Palestinian Media Watch showed that the PA was using aid money from other countries as well. PA President Mahmoud Abbas did not deny that his government paid salaries to terrorists when pressed by on that point in May by Norwegian Foreign Minister Borge Brende. The United Kingdom announced a probe last month into whether foreign aid money was being misused to pay salaries to terrorists.
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