Official PA daily:
PMW "incites" against the PA
Following PMW's reports
that terrorist prisoners receive PA salaries,
PA Min. Karake defends the prisoners
as "lawful freedom fighters"
by Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik
The official PA daily, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, accused Palestinian Media Watch of "inciting" against the PA, saying that PMW is trying to cut off the PA's sources of Western funding.
"'Palestinian Media Watch' [is] a Jewish organization that incites [against the PA] and speaks about Palestinian Authority aid to prisoners, describing it as support for terrorists, in order to stop financial support to the PA."
This was reported together with Minister of Prisoners' Affairs Issa Karake's response to PMW reports documenting that the PA pays salaries to prisoners imprisoned in Israel for terror crimes.
Responding to PMW's reports, Minister Karake has maintained that the payments to prisoners are "humanitarian welfare assistance" to the prisoners' families and children, and that this aid is "a national, humanitarian, and moral obligation being fulfilled by the PA."
On one occasion the Minister has stated that the prisoners are"lawful freedom fighters who fought for the right of their cause and for the freedom and independence of their people." On another occasion, he said that the PA "will not abandon our prisoner sons or their families, for they are fighters who resisted the occupation's oppression."
Karake made the last comment while visiting the families of the following prisoners, who are all serving life sentences in Israel for their involvement in suicide terrorists' bombings:
Ibrahim Sarahneh - an Israeli Arab resident of the Deheisheh refugee camp near Bethlehem. He drove three suicide bombers to their attacks. With his wife Irena Sarahneh, he drove a suicide bomber to his attack in Rishon LeZion in 2002 that killed two and injured many. With his brother Musa Sarahneh, he drove a female suicide bomber to a supermarket in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Kiryat HaYovel, where she killed two people. With his brother Khalil Sarahneh, he drove a suicide bomber who killed a policeman in Jerusalem in 2002.
Ashraf Hajajreh drove a suicide bomber who killed 11 people to his attack in the Beit Yisrael neighborhood of Jerusalem in 2002.
Earlier this year, Karake referred to the Palestinian prisoners in Israel as "prisoners of war and as legitimate fighters," when he explained that the aim of the International Conference for Prisoners under the auspices of the Arab League in December is to secure "recognition of prisoners in the occupation's prisons as prisoners of war and as legitimate fighters."
The Israeli government and many Western governments view Palestinian suicide bombings as terror and completely reject the PA view that those responsible for suicide bombings are "freedom fighters." PMW has reported to Western governments that even terrorists like Abdullah Barghouti, who is serving 67 life sentences for planning many suicide bombings, are receiving high monthly PA salaries. This has led to discussion in various parliaments about the justification for Western funding of the PA's general budget, which pays these salaries.
Karake is now responding to these PMW reports about the salaries to prisoners, which are causing the PA damage internationally. Karake is claiming that they are not salaries for the prisoners but social welfare for the families.
Documenting original PA sources, PMW reports show that the PA's payments to prisoners are in fact salaries and not social welfare:
PMW documents the PA's policy of glorifying terrorists.
- The Palestinian Authority is currently paying salaries totaling approximately 17,500,000 shekels each month to all Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons, including mass murderers.
- The word used in the PA law is Ratib - salary; the law never mentions "social assistance" or "welfare."
- The amount of the salary rises based on number of years in prison, an amount related to the severity of the terror crime and not family need.
- Unmarried terrorists receive the same basic salary as those who are married and have children.
- A separate small stipend is given to married prisoners with children. The average prisoner salary is over 3,000 shekels a month and can reach as high as 12,000 a month for those in prison more than 30 years. The additional stipend for a married prisoner is 300 shekels and a mere 50 shekels per child.
- The terrorist prisoner is the only one who can appoint an "authorized agent" to handle his money when he is in prison. He is not obligated to give it to his wife, children, or parents.
The following are two recent articles reporting on Minister Karake's response to PMW's reports, one given while visiting the homes of terrorists who drove suicide bombers to their attacks:
"The Minister for Prisoners' Affairs, Issa Karake, said... 'Israel carries out political and media incitement internationally in order to stop the financial aid to the Palestinian Authority because it supports families and children of Palestinian prisoners incarcerated in the occupation's prisons.' Karake responded to an article in the British Daily Mail that quoted the organization 'Palestinian Media Watch', a Jewish organization that incites [against the PA] and speaks about Palestinian Authority aid to prisoners, describing it as support for terrorists, in order to stop financial support to the PA. Karake explained that Israel is trying to deny the legitimacy of the prisoners' national struggle, to punish their children and families, and to lay a financial siege on the PA, in an attempt at political blackmail... Karake explained that the biased Israeli campaign is intended to put political pressure on President Abbas and deter him from applying to the UN for recognition of Palestine as a non-member state, through financial pressure on the PA. He added: 'We will not abandon our prisoner sons or their families, for they are fighters who resisted the occupation's oppression. Instead of freeing them as a basic step in a process to achieve a just settlement and regional peace, Israel persists in its attempt to damage the image of the prisoners and the Palestinian national struggle in the eyes of the international community.' Karake and those accompanying him visited the families of Ramzi Abu-Zirr who was sentenced to 18 years; brothers Ibrahim, Musa, and Khalil Sarahneh who were sentenced to life imprisonment, Ashraf Hajajreh who was sentenced to life in prison, Adnan Al-Afandi who was sentenced to 30 years, Rizq Salah who was sentenced to life in prison, and Issa Abd Rabbo who was sentenced to life in prison."
[Al-Ayyam, Oct. 30, 2012]
Information about some of the terrorists whose families PA Minister Karake visited:
Ibrahim Sarahneh - an Israeli Arab resident of the Deheisheh refugee camp near Bethlehem. He drove three suicide bombers to their attacks.
With his wife Irena Sarahneh, he drove a suicide bomber to his attack in Rishon LeZion in 2002 that killed two and injured many.
With his brother Musa Sarahneh, he drove a female suicide bomber to a supermarket in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Kiryat HaYovel where she killed two people.
With his brother Khalil Sarahneh, he drove a suicide bomber who killed a policeman in Jerusalem in 2002.
Ashraf Hajajreh drove the suicide bomber who killed 11 people in the Beit Yisrael neighborhood of Jerusalem in 2002.
Rizq Salah - Killed Israeli soldier Guy Friedman and injured two others with a bomb in Bethlehem in 1990. He was arrested in 1993 and was sentenced to life in prison, but was released in October 2013 as one of 104 terrorists whom Israel agreed to release to fulfill the PA's precondition for renewing negotiations.
"The Minister of Prisoners' Affairs, Issa Karake... said that recent Israeli incitement in the media against aid to families of prisoners held in the occupation's prisons is part of a policy of Israeli incitement against the National [Palestinian] Authority, President Mahmoud Abbas, and the prisoners in the occupation's prisons. It is intended to tighten the siege on the Palestinian Authority and discontinue foreign aid to it. Karake spoke in response to a recent Israeli TV Channel 2 report on aid to prisoners, (Israeli TV Channel 2 reported on PMW's first report on PA salaries to terrorist prisoners. - Ed.) and the accusation of the Palestinian government of 'supporting terrorists'... In addition, Karake explained that aid to prisoners is humanitarian welfare assistance, just like social insurance in all countries, including Israel, to help those in any society who have been hurt and experienced tragedy... Karake said: 'The prisoners and their families are victims of the occupation, and from the Palestinian Authority's inception, its laws have mandated aid to their children. And Israel knows about these laws that were passed by the Palestinian Parliament years ago.' Karake said that aid to prisoners' and Martyrs' (Shahids) families is a national, humanitarian, and moral obligation being fulfilled by the PA, and he said that the prisoners are lawful freedom fighters (i.e., "lawful combatants") who fought for the right of their cause and for the freedom and independence of their people. In addition Karake said: 'The Israeli executioner has no right to kill his victim twice, and we will not allow him to do so. All prisoners must be released, since they are victims of the most prolonged occupation in modern history. This occupation still commits the most heinous violations [of the rights] of our prisoners, violations that defy international law and the principles of human rights. And Israel is behaving like a country above the law."
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Sept. 6, 2012]
Minister Karake on prisoners "as prisoners of war":
Headline: "To be held in Iraq under auspices of the Arab League, Karake: The International Conference for Prisoners will focus on recognition of Palestinian detainees as prisoners of war"
"Karake said that the conference to be held under the auspices of the Arab League on Dec. 10-11, 2012, will focus on the request for support and pressure towards securing recognition of prisoners in the occupation's prisons as prisoners of war and as legitimate fighters."
[Al-Ayyam, Aug. 12, 2012]