Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas shakes hands with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz at a joint news conference in Berlin. Photo: Reuters/Lisi Niesner
As a direct result of the action taken by Palestinian Media Watch (PMW), the banks in the Palestinian Authority (PA) closed the accounts of 35,000 terrorists. Then, after an initial period of turmoil, the PA decided to squander millions of dollars to create a new terror payment system based on the PA postal service.
The new system enables the PA to pay 52 million shekels (approximately $16 million) every month to 11,000 terrorist prisoners and released prisoners, and an unknown number of wounded terrorists and families of dead terrorists (so-called “Martyrs”). And Palestinian “researchers and experts in the fields of finance, business, and economy are calling to strengthen and expand the monetary services” provided to the terrorists by the postal service.
Speaking at a conference, Dr. Rabah Morrar explained that “one of the most important justifications for the postal bank’s existence is the provision of financial services to the prisoners”:
“The position paper submitted by Dr. Morrar explained that one of the most important justifications for the postal bank’s existence is the provision of financial services to the prisoners, the wounded, and the families of the Martyrs, as the [PA] government is paying salaries to more than 11,000 prisoners and released prisoners in accordance with the Law of Prisoners and Released Prisoners No. 19 of 2004 — a sum equal to 52 million [Israeli] shekels [a month].”
[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Aug. 11, 2022]
In April 2020, PMW wrote to the banks operating in the PA, and informed them that provisions of Israel’s 2016 Anti-Terror Law had been incorporated into the law in Judea and Samaria. Since two of the provisions specifically outlawed the payment of any reward for the commission of a terror offense, PMW warned the banks that if they continued to maintain the bank accounts of the terrorists who were receiving payments from the PA, they would potentially expose themselves to both civil and criminal liability.
The banks heeded PMW’s warning, and closed 35,000 accounts of terrorists.
However, the PA — refusing to abandon its terror reward program and ignoring the new legislation — decided to set up a new payment system. After much consideration and financial outlay, the PA created a system in which every terrorist would have his own account in the PA postal bank, into which the PA would pay the monthly salaries of the terrorists. To access the funds, the PA gave every terrorist a designated ATM card, which could only be used in specific ATM machines, adjacent to the PA postal service.
Every month the PA pays tens of millions of shekels/dollars/euros to terrorists and their families. These payments are divided into two. Terrorist prisoners and released terrorists receive a monthly “salary” that increases with time spent in prison. In addition, the PA pays wounded terrorists and the families of dead terrorists a monthly allowance. While there is no public record quantifying the extent of this PA expense, PMW has estimated that it is no less than 20 million shekels (circa $6.15 million) per month.
The following is a longer excerpt of the report cited above
Headline: “The [PA] postal bank — the refuge of the parents of the prisoners and the Martyrs, and protection for the traditional banking sector”
“Researchers and experts [in the fields of] finance, business, and economy are calling to strengthen and expand the monetary services provided by the Palestinian [PA] postal service in order to enable monetary services for the prisoners, the wounded, and the parents of the Martyrs…
[They spoke at a conference held] with the participation of MAS Institute Director of Research Dr. Rabah Morrar, [PA] Monetary Authority Discipline Department Director Anan Al-Samari, Palestinian Postal Service Director-General Moaz Daraghmeh, and Palestinian [PA-funded] Prisoners’ Club Chairman Qadura Fares.
The justifications for the postal bank’s existence
The position paper submitted by Dr. Morrar explained that one of the most important justifications for the postal bank’s existence is the provision of financial services to the prisoners, the wounded, and the families of the Martyrs, as the [PA] government is paying salaries to more than 11,000 prisoners and released prisoners in accordance with the Law of Prisoners and Released Prisoners No. 19 of 2004 — a sum equal to 52 million [Israeli] shekels [a month].
During the years 2015-2017, the Israeli Parliament ratified 10 laws and procedures connected to the prisoners, exacerbating the procedures of their cruel treatment, the most dangerous of which is the issuance of military order no. 1827 by the occupation’s army commander [current Israeli Minister of Defense] Benny Gantz, which would take effect after three months. [The command] forbids the banks from holding the prisoners’ accounts, but the decision was frozen. … According to the decision [sic., the following does not refer to the previous law], the occupation state cut part of the sum that it transfers to the PA, equal to the sum that the Palestinian government pays the prisoners and the Martyrs’ families. Due to this, the Palestinian government decided at the end of February 2021 to pay the Palestinian prisoners’ salaries through the postal offices spread throughout the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The first payment of the salaries was carried out on June 4, 2021, through 20 ATMs in the various areas of the homeland.”
[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Aug. 11, 2022]
Lt. Col. (res.) Maurice Hirsch, Adv. is the Head of Legal Strategies for Palestinian Media Watch, where a version of this article first appeared.