Since Oct. 7, the International Red Cross has been helping imprisoned Palestinian terrorists receive controversial stipends from the Palestinian Authority, according to Israeli NGO Palestinian Media Watch.
According to PMW, incarcerated Palestinians fill out forms to receive the stipends, and the Red Cross delivers the paperwork to Ramallah.
“The role of the International Red Cross in this process is central,” explained PMW director Itamar Marcus. “The international health organization is involved in this because as they visit prisoners, they’re able to bring in forms. Israeli security is not looking at the forms or preventing the terrorist prisoner access to the forms they need to sign.”
The prisoners’ paperwork needs to be completed by the end of 2023 in order to receive stipends in 2024. Terrorists imprisoned before Oct. 7 are also sending renewal forms via the Red Cross to Ramallah, according to PMW.
A Fatah directive dated Dec. 4 and translated by PMW instructs Palestinians to “please produce a [Red] Cross document for those who have no sentence whose names appear below; a [Red] Cross document accompanied by a new administrative [detention] order for the administrative detainees; and a [Red] Cross document accompanied by a verdict for the sentenced prisoners.”
Lists of prisoners from Bethlehem and Hebron districts were circulated on social media to encourage prisoners and their families to claim the payouts. Other Palestinian organizations, such as the PLO’s Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs, joined the publicity campaign.
Since Oct. 7, around 2,400 Palestinian terror suspects have been arrested throughout Judea and Samaria, of whom about half are associated with Hamas.
Israel argues that these stipends are nothing more than economic incentive to commit murder, and refers to them as “pay for slay.”
The International Red Cross did not respond to a request for comment.
Israelis, particularly the families of the hostages kidnapped by Hamas on Oct. 7 and being held in the Gaza Strip, have criticized the Red Cross for not doing more to get access to their loved ones, deliver medicine and check on their well being.
The Israel Prison Service is overseen by National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir. According to his spokesman, Issachar Zalmanovitz, “According to Minister Ben-Gvir’s policy, there is no salary distribution, no deposits in the prison, and no visits to security prisoners. The minister has canceled the distribution of 400 shekels to each security prisoner.”
Asked about the Red Cross’s involvement in facilitating the payouts, Zalmanovitz responded, “the Red Cross is a very problematic organization.”
According to PMW’s Marcus, “If Israel were to condition the Red Cross access to the Palestinian prisoners with Hamas granting access to these Israeli hostages, the impact could be monumental.”
He added that Red Cross documentation of those hostages still alive, and their current condition, “would make it very difficult for Hamas to subsequently injure or murder them.”
‘Pay for slay’
According to Palestinian Authority regulations, terrorists in Israeli prisons are entitled to receive monthly stipends, which start at 1,400 shekels ($387) per month. Over time, the payouts escalate to 12,000 shekels ($2,990) monthly.
Terrorists who are married with children receive even higher payouts.
Furthermore, the P.A. also pays monthly benefits to the families of terrorists killed while attacking Israelis. Families of recognized “martyrs” receive a grant of 6,000 shekels ($1,500) and lifelong monthly stipend of 1,400 shekels ($350).
The number of Hamas terrorists killed in Gaza who Ramallah would recognize as “martyrs” is not clear. The Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry puts the overall death toll at around 20,000. That number is not independently verified and Hamas has not been transparent about the breakdown of civilian vs. terrorist casualties.
Marcus said in October that the P.A. would pay nearly $3 million to the families of Hamas terrorists killed in the initial Oct. 7 attacks on southern Israeli communities.
Despite the bitter rivalry between Fatah and Hamas, the P.A. finds ways to make payments to Hamas terrorists, he said.
Ramallah has been making the payouts for years, and Jerusalem regularly offsets an equivalent amount from taxes that Israel collects on behalf of the P.A.
The issue came under scrutiny following the 2016 murder of U.S. citizen Taylor Force.
Force was killed in Jaffa while then-Vice President Joe Biden was meeting with former Israeli President Shimon Peres at a nearby location. The terrorist, Bashar Masalha, was killed by responding security personnel, but reports later surfaced that his family in Qalqilya was receiving special payouts from the P.A.
At least 1,200 people were killed in Hamas’s attacks on Israeli communities near the Gaza border on Oct. 7. The number of men, women, children, soldiers and foreigners held captive in Gaza by Hamas is now believed to be 129. Other people remain unaccounted for as Israeli authorities continue to identify bodies and search for human remains.