Since the Oct. 7 Hamas massacre of Israeli communities near the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian Authority has added thousands of Palestinians to its list of people who qualify to receive terror stipends, an Israeli watchdog reported on Wednesday.
The findings sparked outrage among surviving residents of the communities.
P.A. officials announced that 3,550 terrorists imprisoned in Israel will receive payouts, as will the families of 23,210 slain “martyrs,” the Jerusalem-based Palestine Media Watch (PMW) said.
The figure for the prisoners was announced on the Telegram channel of the P.A.-funded Prisoners’ Club. The number of “martyrs,” which includes terrorists killed while carrying out attacks, was reported in Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, the official P.A. daily newspaper, on Jan. 10.
“The PLO Commission of Prisoners pays the salaries. It means that the Gaza terrorists are recognized officially and are going to receive salaries,” PMW director Itamar Marcus said regarding the prisoners.
“We already knew this, but now it’s official,” Marcus added. “This means that the P.A. sees all those killed by Israel as innocent victims. Even the terrorists are victims because the P.A. has said their attack was justified in response to Israel’s occupation of seven decades—i.e., since Israel’s creation.”
Of the 3,550 terrorists slated to receive payouts, 661 are Hamas terrorists from Gaza. The remainder are Palestinians arrested in almost daily Israeli counterterror operations around Judea and Samaria. According to Israeli figures, around 1,300 of the terrorism suspects arrested in counterterror raids since Oct. 7 are affiliated with Hamas.
“The nearly 67% rise in the number of prisoners will initially cost the P.A. an additional $1,331,000 per month (4,970,000 shekels), adding $16 million to last year’s expenditure of $161 million (600,000,000 shekels) on terror salaries,” PMW reported.
Adele Raemer, who has been evacuated to Eilat in the wake of the devastation at her Gaza border community, Kibbutz Nirim, was angered to learn of the new P.A. payouts. “This is outrageous. We teach our children coexistence while this announcement teaches the public that terrorism pays off,” said the dual Israeli-U.S. national.
“It’s very personal for me—I almost paid for this with my life, and the lives of my granddaughters and my son. We all were almost murdered in our safe rooms. I have friends from my community who paid with their lives, and two members of our community are now rotting in the Hamas tunnels since they were kidnapped,” said Raemer.
“I want to go home very much, but you can’t live with neighbors who make a living off our deaths,” she said.
‘Pay for slay’
The P.A. is legally mandated to allocate 7% of its annual budget for its “Martyr’s Fund,” which pays monthly stipends to Palestinian terrorists in Israeli prisons, and to the families of terrorists killed in attacks. The size of the monthly payouts depends on factors such as how many Israelis were killed, how long the terrorist has been incarcerated, and family size.
Israeli officials say the payouts encourage terrorism and Jerusalem regularly offsets an equivalent amount from taxes that Israel collects on behalf of the P.A.
Ramallah has been paying stipends for years, but the issue came under a spotlight following the murder of Taylor Force, a U.S. citizen killed by a Palestinian who went on a stabbing rampage in Jaffa in 2018. Congress passed the Taylor Force Act, which halted U.S. aid to the Palestinians as long as terror stipends were being paid out.
American assistance to the P.A resumed under the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden. In December 2022, American victims of Palestinian terrorism filed a lawsuit against the president and Secretary of State Antony Blinken, arguing that the payments violate the Taylor Force Act. Congress has examined the issue as well.
Around 1,200 people were killed in Hamas’s attacks on Israeli communities near the Gaza border on Oct. 7. The number of men, women and children being held captive in Gaza by Hamas is now believed to be 136. Other people remain unaccounted for as Israeli authorities continue to identify bodies and search for human remains.