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Head of PLO prisoners' commission explains why released Hamas prisoners have not received their salaries

Headline: “‘The released prisoners’ sit-in strike’ – political and Hamas’ early election propaganda”

“There is no local, Arab, or international stage from which [PA] President Mahmoud Abbas has not emphasized thatthe salaries of the prisoners, Martyrs, and wounded are a red line, and that even if only a penny remains in our hands it will be paid to them and their families.

A number of weeks ago approximately 30 released prisoners from the Hamas Movement began a sit-in strike in Ramallah, on the pretext that their salary payments had been stopped. This was despite there being over 3,000 released prisoners affiliated with Hamas whose salary payments have not been stopped, and who still receive them regularly.

According to Director of [PLO] Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs Qadri Abu Bakr, these prisoners’ salary payments were stopped in 2007, after the coup that Hamas carried out in the Gaza Strip (see note below –Ed.). He added that the reason for this is that after [Hamas] received the prime ministership of the tenth [PA] government, it changed their salaries from released prisoners’ salaries to high-ranking official public employees’ salaries, and therefore the salary payments [due them] as released prisoners was stopped.

He added:‘The Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs Law (i.e., the PA Prisoners’ Law) does not distinguish between prisoners of Hamas, Fatah, or any other faction. All released prisoners who work in another position whose salary is higher than the certain amount determined by the [PA Prisoners’] law cease to receive salaries, on the assumption that there are others more eligible than them, and especially those who have no additional income.’

He noted that there are dozens of released prisoners who have ceased to receive salaries because they have private businesses… and that since those participating in the sit-in strike have two or three sources of income,they do not meet the conditions for receiving a salary, even if they were in prison for many years.

Abu Bakr emphasized that there are approximately 7,000 released prisoners from the various factions, including Hamas, whose salaries are paid regularly in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.He added that the number of released prisoners from Hamas is approximately 3,000, and that the average salary of released prisoners is between 2,000 to 2,500 [Israeli] shekels…

Legal advisor Khalil Karajeh, who was a member of the team that formulated the [PA] Prisoners’ Law, explained that if released prisoners receive a fixed salary of more than 3,500 shekels they do not receive a salary from the Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs, regardless of their political affiliation…

Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs Spokesman Hassan Abd Rabbo… noted that 12,000 male and female prisoners from all of the national activity factions, including Hamas, receive regular salaries from the Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs with no discrimination, at a cost of 40 million shekels a month.”

2007 Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip - Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah won the 2005 Palestinian Authority Presidential election. However, Hamas won the 2006 parliamentary elections in both the Gaza Strip and West Bank, with a majority of 74 out of 132 seats, to Fatah's 45 seats. Fatah's rule of the PA Presidency and Hamas' rule of the PA government led to friction and eventually armed conflict between Hamas and Fatah. Hamas defeated Fatah militarily in the Gaza Strip in 2007, and since then Hamas rules in Gaza while the PA continues to rule the West Bank under Fatah.