When the leadership of the Palestinian Authority declares that their No. 1 priority is to maintain their “pay-for-slay” terror reward payments to imprisoned terrorists, released terrorists and the families of dead terrorists, they are not just paying lip service. Analysis of the P.A.’s expenditures in 2021 shows that, per capita, the amount the P.A. spends on rewarding terror is astronomical.
A combination of financial reports published by the P.A. with population statistics provided by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics demonstrates the following outrageous reality:
• The P.A. spends 33.34 times more per capita on terror rewards than it spends on health services for the Palestinian population.
• The P.A. spends 10.86 times more per capita on terror rewards than it spends on the education of Palestinian children under the age of 18.
• The P.A. spends 1.87 times more per capita on terror rewards than it spends on benefits for the needy Palestinian population.
As exposed by Palestinian Media Watch, in 2021 the P.A. spent no less than 841 million shekels ($270.75 million) on terror stipends. Six hundred million shekels ($193.2 million) were paid to terrorist prisoners and released terrorists and another 241 million shekels ($77.59 million), at least, were paid to wounded terrorists and the families of dead terrorists.
This huge sum was paid to a maximum of 5,000 prisoners, a maximum of 12,000 released prisoners and a maximum of 40,000 families of dead terrorists. In other words, the P.A. spent an average of 14,771 shekels ($4528) rewarding each terrorist. The above numbers of prisoners, released prisoners and families of dead terrorists are based on P.A. publications since 2018.
In comparison, according to the financial reports the P.A. used to publish, in 2021 the total expenditure of the P.A. Ministry of Health was 2,316,089,000 shekels ($710 million). Since the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics claims that in 2021 there were 5,227,193 Palestinians living in Gaza and the West Bank (i.e. Judea and Samaria), this means that the P.A.’s per capita expenditure on the health of the Palestinians was a mere 443 shekels ($136), over 33 times less than its expenditure on terror reward payments.
Similarly, according to the financial reports the P.A. used to publish, in 2021 the total expenditure of the P.A. Ministry of Education was 3,140,744,000 shekels ($963 million). The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics claims that in 2021, 44.2% of the 5,227,193 Palestinians living in Gaza and the West Bank, (i.e. Judea and Samaria) were under the age of 18 — i.e., 2,310,419 children. This means that the P.A.’s per capita expenditure on the education of Palestinian children was 1,359 shekels ($417)—over 10 times less than its expenditure on terror reward payments.
Examination of the P.A. payments to the Palestinian needy provides an almost optimistic but sadly misleading result. According to the financial reports the P.A. used to publish, in 2021 the total expenditure of the P.A. Ministry of Social Affairs was 930,998,000 shekels ($285.3 million). Previous statistics published by the P.A., in its budget for 2018, claimed that there were 118,000 needy Palestinians. Accordingly, the average per capita P.A. expenditure for each needy Palestinian was 7,890 shekels ($2418).
While this encouraging figure would seem to indicate that the P.A. pays the Palestinian needy more than half of what it pays to terrorists and their families, this calculation is misleading.
Other reports have shown that most of the P.A.’s welfare expenses to the Palestinian needy are defrayed by foreign donations, and that in fact the P.A. spends six times more of its own budget on terror stipends than it spends paying welfare benefits to the needy.
Indeed, just recently, the P.A. Ministry of Social Affairs made clear exactly how the P.A. is abusing the Palestinian needy by using them as leverage to blackmail the European Union into renewing its aid to the P.A.:
“Regarding the date of the welfare allowance payments, [P.A. Minister of Social Affairs] Ahmed Majdalani’s ministry announced that as of now it is unclear when the allowances will be paid, as it depends on the transfer of the European Union funding to the P.A.” (official P.A. TV, “Real News,” March 24, 2022).
P.A. Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh explained that if the European Union does not renew its aid, he is unsure if the Palestinian needy will receive any welfare payments:
“The delay in European aid to the [P.A.] budget in previous months has negatively impacted the ability to honor the obligations to the sectors that receive social aid, and also the [P.A.] public employees’ salaries and the activities of the [official] institutions” (official P.A. daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, March 25, 2022).
The P.A.’s prioritization of the terror rewards is also having a direct impact on the various sectors of Palestinian society. For months, the cash-strapped P.A. has only been partially paying the salaries of its civil servants. This practice has been taking a heavy toll.
As Palestinian Media Watch exposed, the P.A. recently only narrowly avoided a general strike of its health sector because the P.A. has failed to implement promises it made to improve doctors’ pay. While the health sector employees seem to have been placated, there are now reports that the PA teachers are set to escalate their actions, demanding that the P.A. pay their salaries in full:
“General Secretariat member of the General Union of Palestinian Teachers (GUPT) Anan Da’na told Al-Quds yesterday [April 6, 2022] that the union intends to hold activities of escalation aside from ‘a partial strike’ of the school day, which are likely to reach the point of a protest in the street. This is in order to demand that the [P.A.] government pay the teachers’ salaries in full … .” (Al-Quds, April 7, 2022)
IDF Lt. Col. (res.) Maurice Hirsch is the director of Legal Strategies for Palestinian Media Watch. He served for 19 years in the IDF Military Advocate General Corps. In his last position, he served as director of the Military Prosecution in Judea and Samaria.
This article was first published by Palestinian Media Watch.