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PMW exclusive: Former PA Minister of Prisoners’ Affairs admits: Fewer than 5 Palestinian prisoners are POWs
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Special Report:
PA Celebrates Prisoner's Day
  • Refuting a fundamental PA public claim that Palestinian terrorist prisoners are internationally recognized "Prisoners of War," former PA Minister of Prisoners’ Affairs admits in court, during cross-examination by the head of PMW's legal division, that 'fewer than five' meet international criteria to be defined as POWs
  • Although the PA glorifies terrorists on a daily basis, PA "Prisoner's Day" is a special occasion to honor terrorists and murderers of Israelis
  • PA law states that no peace can ever be reached with Israel without the release of all the terrorist prisoners
By Itamar Marcus and Maurice Hirsch, Adv.

Part 1. PA's Prisoner's Day
Part 2. Mahmoud Abbas claims that since PA leaders themselves "gave the orders" to the terrorists, the prisoners are actually POWs
Part 3. Former PA Minister under oath in court admits that 'fewer than 5 prisoners' are actually POWs by international standards
Part 4. PA's POW claim is central to PA propaganda
Part 5. The PA enacted a law to prohibit signing a peace treaty with Israel unless all Palestinian terrorists are released from prison

1. PA's Prisoner's Day
As Israel is set to mark Israeli Memorial Day, mourning the victims of terrorism as well as the IDF soldiers killed in battle, the PA will be celebrating and honoring the Palestinian terrorists who murdered the Israeli victims. One of the most important dates in the Palestinian Authority calendar is April 17 - known as "Palestinian Prisoner's Day" - the day the PA designates to give special honor to terrorists who have been arrested by Israel. The choice of this date is significant. On Jan. 1, 1970, PLO terrorists infiltrated Israel from Lebanon and kidnapped a 58 year old Israeli, Shmuel Rosenwasser. According to Palestinian sources, four years later on April 17, 1974, Israel agreed to a prisoner exchange and released an imprisoned PLO terrorist named Mohammed Hijazi, in return for the release of the hostage Rosenwasser. Hoping for that release to be a precedent for all its terrorists, the PA celebrates "Palestinian Prisoner's Day" every April 17.

2. Mahmoud Abbas argues that since PA leaders themselves "gave the orders" to the terrorists, the prisoners are actually POWs
One of the central claims made by the PA is that all Palestinian prisoners, even those who sent suicide bombers to blow up civilians on buses and in cafés, and to murder children and infants, should not be categorized as terrorists but rather as Prisoners of War (POW), the unique status enjoyed by captured soldiers of an enemy army. This is a critical PA argument, as it is used by the PA as justification both to demand the terrorists be released as well as the PA policy of paying salaries to imprisoned terrorists.

In
one of the most important videos ever released by PMW, in which Abbas admitted the Palestinian Authority leadership's responsibility for the murder of over 1200 Israelis in the PA terror campaign from October 2000 - 2004, Abbas elucidated this ideology. It was February 2005, and the PA's terror campaign, which the PA called the "Al-Aqsa Intifada," (commonly known as the Second Intifada) was coming to an end. In the PA TV interview, Abbas claimed that "now... that we have put an end to the fighting between us," Israel had to release all Palestinian POWs, because from the point of view of the PA, the murder of Israeli civilians was part of an internationally recognized and legitimate "war." Since the "war" had ended, each side should release all POWs. Abbas argued that since the terrorist prisoners were "sent" by the PA and "given orders" to kill by the PA, they should be seen as soldiers merely following orders of a legitimate government, and should therefore be released. Following are the main texts of Abbas' argument:

Mahmoud Abbas: "I demand [the release of] prisoners [Arabic "Asra"= POWs] because they are human beings, who did what we, we, ordered them to do. We - the [Palestinian] Authority. They should not be punished while we [the leaders] sit at one table negotiating...This is war. One [Israel] ordered a soldier to kill, and I ordered my [Palestinian] son, brother, or others, to carry out the duty of resistance (i.e., euphemism for terror). This person killed and the other person killed. So why say this person's [Palestinian POWs'] hands are stained with blood, and [he] must be kept in prison? He is a fighter just like any other fighter. We were in a state of fighting. When a truce is reached, in any country in the world, the past is forgotten... If the prisoner ["Asra" = POW] continues to be imprisoned... What am I worth in the eyes of the ordinary citizen? The [imprisoned] ordinary citizen will ask me: 'What did you get me? You ordered me - you are responsible for me.'"
[Official Palestinian Authority TV, Feb. 14, 2005]

3. Former PA Minister under oath in court admits that 'fewer than 5 prisoners' are actually POWs by international standards
Palestinian Media Watch is playing an active role in lawsuits brought by victims of Palestinian terror. PMW's director has written expert opinions and supplied evidence such as this Abbas interview, documenting the PA's direct responsibility for terror. PMW's Head of Legal Strategies, Maurice Hirsch, was asked by the plaintiffs to assist in cross-examination of a number of the PA's witnesses, including former PA Minister of Prisoners and Released Prisoners’ Affairs Ashraf Al-Ajrami (2007 - 2009). In one of the cross examinations, Hirsch asked Al-Ajrami if the PA saw prisoners as POWs. Al-Ajrami answered: "In the Palestinian Authority they say that the Palestinian prisoners are prisoners of war." Rejecting Al-Ajrami's answer, the presiding Judge immediately stepped in and pressed Al-Ajrami on this definition until Al-Ajrami finally admitted that "perhaps fewer" than five fit the legal definition of POW:

PMW Head of Legal Strategies Maurice Hirsch:  
"Does the Palestinian Authority view the murderer prisoners, as Prisoners of War? If they are soldiers and are captured by the other side that's called a prisoner of war, no?"
Former PA Minister of Prisoners and Released Prisoners' Affairs Ashraf Al-Ajrami:
"Listen, that's a definition from Geneva Convention Number 3. It defines what a prisoner of war is, or what that is- also Geneva Convention Number 4 from 1949 (sic., the Fourth Geneva Convention does not define prisoners of war, it deals with civilians in war zones). In the Palestinian Authority they say that the Palestinian prisoners are prisoners of war, but I was [the PA] minister [of prisoners' affairs] and I know - I was also a prisoner myself - I know the difference between Convention Number 3 and Convention Number 4. Number 3 says that if you capture someone who has a uniform-"
Jerusalem District Court Vice President Judge Moshe Drori:
"The Third Convention is the Prisoners of War Convention, the Fourth Convention is during wartime. Sir, you are not correct."
Al-Ajrami:
"Why?"
Judge:
"Because aside from having a weapon he (i.e., the prisoner of war)... intended to observe the rules of warfare. That is an additional condition; you simply did not say it."
Al-Ajrami:
"Yes, yes, I didn't finish, okay. Therefore [there are] also those who perhaps some of them will be defined as prisoners of war and some not. But the large part of them are actually political prisoners-"
Judge:
"One moment, I simply didn't understand. You were the Minister of Prisoners' Affairs; what was the largest number of prisoners during your time - 2,000, 3,000, 10,000, how many were there?"
Al-Ajrami:
"Twelve thousand."
Judge:
"Twelve thousand. Of them, how many people carried out an attack while wearing a uniform and openly having a weapon? (i.e., conditions for being recognized as a POW) Ten? Five?"
Al-Ajrami:
"Fewer perhaps."
Judge:
"How many?"
Al-Ajrami:
"I don't know."
Judge:
"Excellent. Let's say 10 out of 12,000. So 11,900 (sic., 11,990) are not prisoners of war?"
Al-Ajrami:
"No, certainly not."
Judge:
"So they are not prisoners of war?"
Al-Ajrami:
"According to the international definition no."
[Excerpt of Jerusalem District Court protocol, civil suit 3367-09, Feb. 7, 2018]

4. PA's POW claim is central to PA ideology and propaganda
In November 2017, the official PA daily, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, reported that the PA-funded Prisoners' Club launched a campaign "to correct the widespread historical and statistical mistakes regarding the prisoners" in which it argues that the terrorist prisoners should be seen as POWs.

In August 2017, Mahmoud Abbas, posted on his Facebook page a statement from the PLO Executive Committee which ended by saying, "The [PLO] Executive Committee sent a blessing of appreciation and pride to the freedom prisoners of war for their legendary stance, and emphasized that their release is at the top of its agenda."
In May 2017, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida reported that Fatah Movement Central Committee member Jamal Muhaisen also referred to the terrorists as "prisoners of war."
In April 2017, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida reported that PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah emphasized "that the time has come to establish their status as prisoners of war in a way that will allow us to work with international institutions in order to enlist more support for their release." Al-Hayat Al-Jadida also reported that PA Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr. Riyad Al-Malki made similar remarks also arguing that "the prisoners are demanding their rights as prisoners of war according to international law."

Additional PA references to the terrorist prisoners as POWs are provided below.

5. The PA enacted a law to prohibit signing a peace treaty with Israel unless all Palestinian terrorists are released from prison
Defining Palestinian terrorist prisoners as POWs and demanding their eventual release from prison is central to the PA. Paragraph 4 of the 2004 PA Law of Prisoners and Released Prisoners provides that "The National Authority will not sign and will not participate in the signing of a peace agreement for a solution of the Palestinian problem without the release of all the prisoners (i.e., POWs)."

Accordingly, no peace agreement can ever be reached between Israel and the PA, unless Israel agrees to release even the most heinous of mass murderers such as Abdallah Barghouti, Hassan Salameh and Abbas Al-Sayid, who in total are responsible for the suicide bombings that murdered at least 145 people.

The following are longer excerpts of the items referred to and additional example of similar expressions:

PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas: "I demand [the release of] prisoners because they are human beings, who did what we, we, ordered them to do. We - the [Palestinian] Authority. They should not be punished while we sit at one table negotiating. Besides, they spent many years in prison. How much longer? Do they have to spend all their life in prison and even die there?"
Interviewer: "How can we deal with their criteria 'bloodstained hands'?"
Abbas: "Such talk is illogical talk and I do not accept it. What does a bloodstained hand mean? We were fighting each other. They kill and kill. They hunt down people with planes and tanks and killed. The soldier who kills 50 or 20 persons here and there - are his hands stained with talc powder? They are stained with blood. This is war. One (i.e., Israel) ordered a soldier to kill, and I ordered my son, brother, or others, to carry out the duty of resistance (i.e., euphemism for terror). This person killed and the other person killed. So why say this person's hands are stained with blood, and [he] must be kept in prison? He is a fighter just like any other fighter. We were in a state of fighting. When a truce is reached, in any country in the world, the past is forgotten... What meaning is there to peace with the Israelis if the wanted continues to be wanted, the prisoner continues to be imprisoned, and the deportee continues to be deported? What am I worth in the eyes of the ordinary [Palestinian] citizen? The ordinary citizen will ask me: 'What did you get me? You ordered me - you are responsible for me.'"
[Official Palestinian Authority TV, Feb. 14, 2005]
Click to view video

PA-funded Prisoners' Club: Imprisoned Palestinian terrorists are "fighters who have fought for the freedom of their homeland," not criminals

Headline: "The Prisoners' Club has launched a campaign to correct the widespread historical and statistical mistakes regarding the prisoners"
"The [PA-funded] Prisoners' Club has launched a campaign to gradually correct the historical, informative, and statistical mistakes that have clung in recent years to the media and cultural discourse regarding the documentation and investigation of the phenomenon of the Palestinian and Arab prisoners... As part of this campaign, the Prisoners' Club has emphasized that the prisoners are not held in 'prisons,' but rather in 'detention camps' or 'temporary security installations' (sic., terrorists jailed in Israel are held in prisons). From this the first difference can be seen between a 'prison' - which is a place intended for the imprisonment of people who have committed a crime - and a 'detention center' - which is a place intended for the imprisonment of prisoners of war or in order to steal the freedom of political detainees. From the dawn of its existence, 'prison' has been intended for criminals, and it is not logical to attribute it to fighters who have fought for the freedom of their homeland. This is the second difference between considering the place where prisoners of war or political detainees are held a 'detention camp' or [considering it] a 'prison,' as this is a place meant for imprisoning criminals in the eyes of civilian law."
[Official PA daily, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Nov. 9, 2017]

PLO statement, posted on Abbas' and Fatah Facebook page: US Senate Committee decision on conditioning aid to PA on salaries to terrorists and their families is "unacceptable"

Text posted on PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas' Facebook page and on the Facebook page of the Fatah Movement Bethlehem Branch

Posted text: "A statement from the PLO Executive Committee - Ramallah, Aug. 12, 2017
The PLO Executive Committee, led by [PA President] Mahmoud Abbas, met at the [PA's] presidential headquarters and discussed the political developments...
The [PLO] Executive Committee condemned the legislators of the American Congress and their positions towards the Palestinian people... and considered the American Senate Committee on Foreign Relations' approval of stopping the aid from the American administration to the PA - if it does not stop the aid to the families of the Martyrs (Shahids) and prisoners - as an unacceptable act that will negatively affect everything that is connected to the Palestinians' rights, and particularly their right to life and protection from the occupation army's violations, and [from] the summary executions that it carries out in the streets and military checkpoints of the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem. [The PLO Executive Committee] emphasized the rejection of this extortion [by the Americans], and the rejection of using the tool of [financial] aid in order to extract political concessions.
[The Executive Committee] emphasized that the PLO will continue [to fulfill] its national, moral, and humanitarian responsibility towards the occupation's victims, the victims of the organized state terror, and the victims of the herds of settlers and their terror organizations, which the government of Israel supports and provides with protection and patronage, with the blessings of the legislators of the American Congress. The Executive Committee called on the American administration to adopt the principle of two states on the 1967 borders, and to ask the occupation authority 'Israel' to stop the Israeli colonialist settlement activity, including in East Jerusalem, as the basis of any American political initiative. The Executive Committee praised the honorable positions of the African Union and its positions supporting the Palestinian people's legal national rights, and expressed hope that the African Union will prevent an African-Israeli summit from being held in Togo in October [2017]...
The [PLO] Executive Committee sent a blessing of appreciation and pride to the freedom prisoners of war for their legendary stance, and emphasized that their release is at the top of its agenda."
[Facebook page of PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, Aug. 13, 2017;
the Fatah Movement's Bethlehem Branch, Aug. 13, 2017]

Fatah Central Committee member: Terrorist prisoners are Prisoners of War

Headline: "Ramallah hosted different activities to accompany the 15th day of the prisoners' [hunger] strike"
"Fatah Movement Central Committee member Jamal Muhaisen... said that the sit-in strike opposite the UN headquarters in Ramallah was held in order to demand that the member states of the international body [UN] pressure Israel to implement the third and fourth Geneva Conventions for the Palestinian prisoners as they are prisoners of war, and to condemn the racist Israeli actions against the young Palestinians."
[Official PA daily, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, May 2, 2017]

PA Prime Minister: Terrorist prisoners are Prisoners of War

Headline: "The government: The unity of the prisoners calls to us to complete the reconciliation [between Fatah and Hamas] and thwart the occupation's plans"
"[PA] Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah emphasized during the weekly government meeting held in Ramallah under his leadership... that the fact that Israel continues to hold thousands of prisoners, in addition to the racist incitement campaign and the criminal, racist, direct, and explicit calls of the occupation leaders to kill the prisoners (PMW has found no such calls -Ed.) necessitate the urgent intervention of the international community...
He added that their (the prisoners') cause is the cause of all of us, and that this is a national and personal cause that touches every Palestinian home...
He emphasized that we will not forget our prisoners and will not forget our land, and that the time has come to establish their status as prisoners of war in a way that will allow us to work with international institutions in order to enlist more support for their release. He also noted that the title of the [current] stage is the need to release all of the prisoners without exception and without discrimination. Hamdallah added that the loyalty to the prisoners also requires us to act to unite the homeland and provide a fitting life for their families, and that instead of the blackmail, pressures, and incitement that Israel is using to force us to stop supporting the prisoners and Martyrs' families, it must stop the organized state terror that it is using."
[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, April 26, 2017]

PA Minister of Foreign Affairs claims imprisoned terrorists who attacked civilians are "prisoners of war" who suffer from "inhumane conditions"

Headline: "Popular, Arab, and international support among the prisoners, and a warning to the occupation against oppression"
"[PA] Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr. Riyad Al-Malki said that the ministry has called on its diplomats worldwide to defend the prisoners' rights... He added that the humanitarian demands of the prisoners are justified, as they are humanitarian demands and not political ones, as the prisoners are demanding their rights as prisoners of war according to international law."
[Official PA daily, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, April 18, 2017]

PLO Director of Prisoners' Affairs: terror against Israel "legitimized by UN and international law," convicted terrorists are "prisoners of war"

Headline: "Karake: Liberman's decision to outlaw the [Palestinian] National Fund is meant to define the Palestinian struggle as a crime and the prisoners as criminals"
"Director of [PLO] Commission of Prisoners' Affairs Issa Karake said that the occupation's [Israeli] Minister of War (sic., Defense) Avigdor Liberman's statements, which considered the [PLO] Palestinian National Fund as a 'terror organization,' are meant to define the national struggle for freedom and independence as a crime... and that they were said as part of targeting the struggle of the prisoners and Martyrs (Shahids), who have sacrificed for freedom, honor, and the right to self-determination.
Karake noted that Liberman's statements were said as part of a denial of the Palestinian people's national identity, [and] a consideration of the struggle of the prisoners and Martyrs as terror and not as a legitimate struggle verified by UN decisions and international law, which views the struggle of occupied peoples for self-determination to be a legitimate struggle, and [determines that] whoever falls in to the enemy's hands is a prisoner of war who is protected by the third and fourth Geneva Conventions...
Karake made these statements during a visit to several released prisoners and the families of prisoners from the Jenin district, [including] the family of prisoner Anas Jaradat, who was sentenced to 30 life sentences and an additional 30 years (sic., he was sentenced to 35 life sentences and an additional 35 years)."
[Official PA daily, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, March 19, 2017]
Former PA Minister of Religious Affairs, Mahmoud Al-Habbash, claims that terrorist prisoners are Prisoners of War

Al-Habbash: "All the Palestinian prisoners who protected [our] land, honor and homeland are prisoners of freedom; they are prisoners of war. They are not criminals, will never be and have never been. Their hands committed no crime. They were defending themselves. They are an inseparable part of this national Palestinian movement and one of its authentic elements."
[Official Palestinian Authority TV, March 28, 2014]
Click to view video

Former PA Minister of Prisoners: Terrorist prisoners are Prisoners of War

Headline: "Karake: Our application to the UN [to achieve] recognition of the State of Palestine will raise the legal status of the prisoners"
"Minister of Prisoners Issa Karake (from 2011 - 2014, Ed.) said that the [PA] leadership's application to the UN to wrest [from it] international recognition of a Palestinian state which is not a member of the UN will raise the legal status of the prisoners and will offer international protection of their rights and their honor... He said that the prisoners will become captives of a state (i.e., Palestine), hostages and detainees in another state (i.e., Israel). The state's (Palestine's) legal status will turn them into prisoners of war who are detained illegally in the prisons inside Israel. He added: 'If the State of Palestine is recognized, it will be easy for us to call on the parties to the Geneva Conventions to assemble in order to apply the Geneva Conventions to the territories of the occupied state. This includes [applying the Conventions to] the prisoners and in addition, we will be able to prosecute the Israelis and hold them accountable for actions and crimes that have been committed and continue to be committed against the prisoners in prison.'"
[Official Pa daily, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Nov. 13, 2012]

Former PA Minister of Prisoners' Affairs seeks support for recognition of prisoners as "legitimate fighters"

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]

Former PA Minister of Prisoners: Terrorist prisoners are Prisoners of War

"[PA Minister of Prisoners' Affairs, Issa] Karake while visiting prisoners' families at Qalandiya refugee camp... explained that the international recognition of the Palestinian State changes all the imprisoned Palestinians into prisoners of a state, prisoners of war held hostage in another state... He noted that the recognition of the state means recognition of the legitimacy of the Palestinian struggle that the Palestinian nation fought, in the search for freedom and independence. In addition, it [recognition of a state] indicates that the struggles (Arabic- Nidalat) of the prisoners are legitimized and legal according to UN Resolutions, international laws and the third and fourth Geneva Conventions."
[Official PA daily, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Sept. 8, 2011]

Former Minister of Prisoners' Affairs: Palestinian prisoners are not terrorists or criminals

"[Minister of Prisoners' Affairs, Issa] Karake said: 'We will go to the International Court of Justice in The Hague in order to extract recognition that that the Palestinian prisoners are prisoners of war, not criminals or terrorists, and their rights must be respected. We shall appeal to the [UN] General Assembly for a legal opinion, which will be binding on the International Court of Justice in The Hague, to protect the Palestinian prisoners and to call for the imposition of a legal siege on Israel."
[Official PA daily, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, April 17, 2011]

Notes on the terrorist prisoners cited above:

Abdallah Barghouti - Palestinian terrorist who prepared explosives for terror attacks in which 67 people were murdered: Sbarro restaurant in Jerusalem, Aug. 9, 2001 - 15 murdered; triple attack at Ben Yehuda pedestrian mall, Jerusalem, Dec. 1, 2001 - 11 murdered; Moment Café, Jerusalem, March 9, 2002 - 11 murdered; Sheffield Club, Rishon LeZion, May 7, 2002 - 15 murdered; Hebrew University, Jerusalem, July 31, 2002 - 9 murdered; Bus 4 in Tel Aviv, Sept. 19, 2002 - 6 murdered. Barghouti is serving 67 life sentences.

Hassan Salameh - Hamas terrorist who is serving 46 life sentences for heading the terror infrastructure that carried out 2 suicide bombings on no. 18 buses in Jerusalem (first attack on Feb. 25, 1996, second attack on March 3, 1996), and the suicide bombing at the Ashkelon Junction hitchhike point (Feb. 25, 1996). 46 people were murdered in the attacks and around 100 were wounded.

Abbas Al-Sayid - serving 35 life sentences for planning two suicide bombings, one at a Passover dinner at the Park Hotel in Netanya (30 murdered, March 27, 2002) and another outside a shopping Mall in Netanya (5 murdered, May 18, 2001).