PMW caused the closure of 35,000 bank accounts of terrorists

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Source: PMW, By Maurice Hirsch, Adv. and Itamar Marcus, May 5, 2021

  • PA openly and intentionally breaks Israeli Anti-Terror law and pays salaries directly to terrorists after banks refused to be conduit for the terror payments

  • PMW notified Israel’s Minister of Defense Benny Gantz of the PA violations, stressing the importance of bringing the perpetrators to justice and seizing all the funds paid as rewards for terror

As a direct result of action taken by Palestinian Media Watch, the banks operating in the areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority closed 35,000 bank accounts of imprisoned terrorists, released terrorists, and families of dead terrorists – the so-called “Martyrs.” PMW had notified the banks that if they continued to operate these accounts and accept terror reward payments from the PA into them, it would violate Israeli law, exposing them to civil and criminal liability. In response to PMW’s warning, the banks closed the accounts of the terrorists.

However, the PA did not heed PMW’s warning as did the banks. In April, for the first time in 2021 and for the first time since the Israeli law came into effect, the PA paid the illegal salaries to imprisoned and released terrorists, and allowances of the families of the dead terrorists.

“Today, Tuesday, the PA began to pay the salaries of the prisoners in the Israeli occupation’s prison, the released prisoners, the wounded, and the Martyrs’ relatives through the Palestinian post office branches. This was after approximately 35,000 of their accounts were closed at the banks operating in the Palestinian territories following an Israeli military order.”

[Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, UK Arab news website, April 6, 2021]

Announcing that the terror salaries would be paid through the PA postal service, the PA-funded Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs said:

“The Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs said in a statement it issued today, Monday, that the salaries of the prisoners and released prisoners will be paid tomorrow, Tuesday, through the Palestinian post office branches in all districts of the West Bank, and through the commission’s departments in the Gaza Strip.”

[Ma’an, independent Palestinian news agency, April 5, 2021]

Referencing the warning letter the banks were sent by PMW, the announcement of the Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs stated that the decision of the banks to close the accounts of the terrorists was “due to the Israeli threats to harm and sue them”:

“The decision to pay the prisoners’ salaries through the post office branches was made following a meeting held between the [PA] Ministry of Finance, the [PA] Ministry of Communications and IT, and the Palestinian [PA] Monetary Authority. This was after the banks refused to accept the salary sheets of the prisoners and released prisoners due to the Israeli threats to harm and sue them.”

[Ma’an, independent Palestinian news agency, April 5, 2021]

The PA is adamant about continuing to reward terrorists and has been exploring various ways to circumvent the anti-terror legislation without the assistance of the commercial banks. The PA initially decided to create a new terror-bank, and even announced the name of the CEO-elect, but that option was abandoned.

With no banks willing to provide services to the terrorists, the PA was left with no option other than to make direct payments at PA post offices. The terrorists and their families, who have the status of heroes in the PA, said they felt “humiliation and degradation” because they had to stand “like beggars to receive these salaries”:

“At the postal center in Ramallah, which is in the center of the West Bank, there was a crowding of released prisoners, relatives of prisoners and Martyrs, and wounded…

Released prisoner Arafat Barghouti (PMW was unable to determine the nature of his crimes -Ed.) told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed: ‘The prisoners, their relatives, and the released prisoners received the message that they are going to make them social cases, and this is as a result of the wait at the gates of the post office and the feeling of humiliation and degradation after years of struggling against and defying the occupation.’

Barghouti continued: ‘Currently the prisoners are standing and pleading to receive salaries that will support them. The sentence I heard the most today from the released prisoners is that we are standing like beggars to receive these salaries. It is not fitting for the prisoners and their struggle that we stand like this in front of the post office.’

Barghouti demanded to pressure the banks or find appropriate paths for the prisoners, instead of transferring the salaries to the post office. He said: ‘The banks need to do what is required of them. They are in the Palestinian territories, and they must pay a price, even if pressures are exerted on them by the occupation.’ He also said that it is the PA’s obligation to bear responsibility and seek suitable alternatives.”

[Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, UK Arab news website, April 6, 2021]

The Israeli Anti-Terror legislation that PMW referred to provides that a person who carries out any “transaction with property”, including cash payments given as a reward for carrying out a terror crime, is committing an offence.

The term “transaction with property,” is defined in the legislation as including any banking transaction.

Accordingly, all the Palestinian officials who were involved in the decision to pay the terror salaries and the staff of the PA postal service who facilitated the payment of the salaries all committed serious offences punishable with up to 10 years in prison. The monies paid to the terrorists are also subject to seizure.

For this reason, PMW has notified Israel’s Minister of Defense Benny Gantz of the PA violations, stressing the importance of bringing the perpetrators to justice and seizing all the funds paid as rewards for terror.

The following is a longer excerpt of the report on the terror salaries being paid through the PA post offices cited above:   

Headline: “The prisoners’ salaries will be paid tomorrow through the post office branches”
“The [PLO] Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs said in a statement it issued today, Monday, [April 5, 2021,] that the salaries of the prisoners and released prisoners will be paid tomorrow, Tuesday, through the Palestinian post office branches in all districts of the West Bank, and through the commission’s departments in the Gaza Strip.

The commission explained that the decision to pay the prisoners’ salaries through the post office branches was made following a meeting held between the [PA] Ministry of Finance, the [PA] Ministry of Communications and IT, and the Palestinian [PA] Monetary Authority. This was after the banks refused to accept the salary sheets of the prisoners and released prisoners due to the Israeli threats to harm and sue them, if they do not stop holding contacts with the prisoners and released prisoners (refers to the application of much of Israel’s Anti-Terror Law to the West Bank, including rendering banks liable to punishment for facilitating PA terror salaries -Ed.).

The commission noted that the released prisoners will receive payment this month through the post office branches, until the process of integrating them into the state institutions is completed. Those of them who will work and be integrated into the official civilian and military institutions will be paid through the institution they are affiliated with via smart cards.

It added that the mechanism for paying the salaries of the prisoners who are in prison will continue to be through the post office branches. Regarding the salaries of the prisoners and released prisoners in the Gaza Strip, they will receive them after contacting the commission’s departments in the Gaza Strip.”

[Ma’an, independent Palestinian news agency, April 5, 2021]

Israeli army legislation which applies parts of Israel’s 2016 Anti-Terror Law to the West Bank (taking effect on May 9, 2020). The law prohibits numerous terror related offenses, including terror funding/rewarding and holds heads of terror organizations responsible for murder committed by members of the organization. The law criminalizes the provision of funds for or the payment of rewards for the commission of terrorist offenses, such as the salaries the PA pays to terrorist prisoners and released prisoners. The provision also applies to any person or body – such as a bank – that facilitates such funding or rewarding of terror offenses. Based on this last provision, PMW sent letters in April 2020 to the heads of banks in the PA areas warning them that they must freeze the accounts of terrorists and their proxies and transfer them to the Israeli army or face legal consequences.

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