The Defense Ministry released figures Sunday alleging that some terrorists who killed Israelis will be paid more than NIS 10 million ($2.78 million) each throughout their lifetimes by the Palestinian Authority.
Ahead of a Knesset vote on a measure to cut some payments to the PA until it stops paying stipends to terrorists and their families, the ministry gave estimates of the total payments made to several jailed murderers.
In each case the ministry said the terrorist would receive NIS 1,400 ($390) per month for their first three years in prison. But the ministry did not say how much it estimated each terrorist would be paid after the first three years, or how it arrived at its estimates of what each terrorist or his family would receive by the age of 80.
The PA provides the monthly payments, usually via an intermediary organization, to the families of those convicted of carrying out terror attacks on Israelis or those killed perpetrating such attacks. Israeli officials have repeatedly demanded that the payments be stopped, saying they incentivize terror.
“I call on all Knesset members to join us, vote for the law and put an end to this theater of the absurd,” Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said in a statement ahead of Monday’s vote on the measure. “Every shekel that would have been transferred to the murderers will be deducted from the PA’s tax revenues. We will stop financing terrorism.”
Among the terrorists cited in the Defense Ministry report were the killers of Eitam and Naama Henkin in October 2015.
The Henkins were murdered in a drive-by shooting, and the four killers were each sentenced to two life sentences and an additional 30 years in jail.
The four, all Hamas members, were named as Yahia Muhammad Naif Abdullah Hajj Hamad, who carried out the shooting itself; Samir Zahir Ibrahim Kusah, the driver of the car, who was also linked to previous terror attacks; gunman Karem Lufti Fatahi Razek, who was wounded by gunfire from one of his fellow cell members during the attack; and Zir Ziad Jamal Amar.
By the time they turn 80, Razek will have been paid NIS 11,232,000 ($3.1 million); Amar NIS 10,056,000 ($2.8 million) and Hamad NIS 10,080,080 ($2.77 million), the ministry claimed. No numbers were given for Kusah.
Another terrorist cited in the report was Omar al-Abed, who stabbed to death three members of an Israeli family in their home.
Al-Abed knocked on the door of the Salomons family in the West Bank settlement of Halamish in July 2017, just minutes before festivities to celebrate the birth of a new grandson in the family. He murdered Elad, Yosef, and Chaya Salomon. He has already been paid NIS 12,200 ($3,370), the Defense Ministry said, and is expected to receive at least NIS 12,604,000 ($3.5 million) by the time he turns 80.
The ministry also estimated the payments to an alleged terrorist who was not yet convicted, and the payments to the family of another suspect killed in a shootout with the IDF.
Abed al-Karim Assi has been charged with stabbing to death Rabbi Itamar Ben-Gal, 29, at a bus stop outside the West Bank settlement of Ariel February 5, 2018. So far he has been paid NIS 1,400. However, if, as expected, he is sentenced to life imprisonment, he will receive a total of NIS 12,604,800 ($3.5 million) by the time he reaches the age of 80, the Defense Ministry said.
Similar payments are made to the families of Palestinians who allegedly attacked Israelis and were subsequently killed by Israeli security forces.
Ahmad Nassar Jarrar, believed to have been behind the January terror attack that killed Rabbi Raziel Shevach, was killed in a shootout with the IDF. Because he would have received a lengthy sentence, his family are receiving a monthly payment of NIS 1,400, and so far have received NIS 5,600 ($1,500), according to the ministry.
Due to their lengthy imprisonment, if any of the terrorists are released from prison they are automatically entitled to a job with the PA equivalent to a minister or a general, the Defense Ministry said. If they die their family will be entitled to continue receiving the payments.
Under an economic agreement signed in 1994, Israel transfers to the PA tens of millions of dollars each year in customs duties levied on goods destined for Palestinian markets that transit through Israeli ports.
The bill to be voted on Monday would allow the government to either permanently deduct the funds paid out to terrorists, or “freeze” the payments, leaving the security cabinet with the final say.
Liberman said last month that withheld tax revenues would go toward compensating Israeli terror victims who cannot sue their attackers.
“Soon, this theater of the absurd will come to an end, and the salaries of the terrorists that we will withhold from [PA President Mahmoud] Abbas will be used to prevent terrorism and compensate victims,” he said.
The PLO gives monthly payments to all Palestinian prisoners jailed in Israel, no matter the reason for their incarceration, and also to families of so-called “martyrs” — a term used by the PLO to refer to anyone killed by an Israeli, including in the act of carrying out an attack.
A recent report published by the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, the Israeli Defense Ministry agency responsible for administering civilian affairs in the West Bank and the crossings with Gaza, said that around one-third of Palestinian prisoners were “directly responsible for the murder of Israelis.”
The bill is similar to the Taylor Force Act, which was recently passed by the US government.
Last May, a former senior defense official told a top Knesset panel that the PA had paid out some NIS 4 billion — or $1.12 billion — over the previous four years to terrorists and their families.
Setting out the figures, Brig.-Gen (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser, a former director general of the Ministry of Strategic Affairs and ex-head of the army’s intelligence and research division, told the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that the longer the period for which a Palestinian security prisoner is jailed, “the higher the salary… Anyone who has sat in prison for more than 30 years gets NIS 12,000 ($3,360) per month,”