Tag Archives: Palestinian National Authority

PA ignores plight of Palestinian prisoners held in Arab countries


PA President Mahmoud Abbas at a PLO meeting in Ramallah, July 18, 2013.

PA President Mahmoud Abbas at a PLO meeting in Ramallah, July 18, 2013. Photo: REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman

While the Palestinian Authority continues to demand the release of Palestinians from Israeli jails, it has long been ignoring the fact that thousands of Palestinians are languishing in prisons in several Arab countries.

The families of the prisoners held by Israel at least know where their sons are, and most are able to visit them on a regular basis.

But in the Arab world the story is completely different.

The daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi recently revealed that dozens of Palestinians have been held in Kuwaiti prisons since 1991, and their families don’t know anything about their conditions.

The fact that Palestinians are being held in prison in an Arab country is not surprising.

What is more surprising is the Palestinian Authority’s position on them.

According to the report, the PA has never approached the Kuwaitis concerning the fate of the prisoners.

Muhammad al-Udwan, the father of one of the Palestinians held in Kuwait for the past 25 years, said he still doesn’t know exactly where his son Essam is being held.

He and other families complained that the PA hasn’t done anything to help them.

The PLO ambassador to Kuwait, Rami Tahboub, refused to comment on the plight of the prisoners.

Reached by phone, the ambassador first said he was busy with a meeting. He later stopped answering the phone.

Hassan Khraisheh, deputy speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council in Ramallah, urged the emir of Kuwait to put an end to the “tragedy” of the Palestinian families whose sons are held in his prisons without trial.

He called on the emir to inform the families whether their sons were still alive.

“If they are dead, then we want confirmation and information where they are buried,” he added.

Kuwait expelled hundreds of thousands of Palestinians after US-led coalition forces liberated the tiny oil-rich emirate in 1991. The move came in retaliation for the PLO’s support of Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait a year earlier. After liberation, the Kuwaitis also arrested many Palestinians on suspicion of collaboration with the Iraqi occupation army.

Recently, the Kuwaitis finally allowed the PLO to reopen its embassy in the emirate.

The move came after Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas apologized for the PLO’s support of Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait.

But the PA leadership appears too afraid to ask the Kuwaiti authorities about the Palestinians who went missing in the emirate over the past two decades. Abbas does not want to alienate the Kuwaitis because he’s hoping they will resume financial aid to the Palestinians.

Two weeks ago, Abbas boasted that he had acted as a mediator to secure the release of nine Lebanese nationals abducted 17 months ago in Syria.

Abbas’s announcement enraged families of Palestinian prisoners in Kuwait and other Arab countries. The families said Abbas’s top priority should have been to secure the release of Palestinians, and not Lebanese, from Syrian prisons.

Hundreds of Palestinians are held in various prisons in Syria, some for more than two decades. In the past year, at least two prisoners were reported to have died in Syrian and Egyptian prisons.

Again, the PA leadership has not even demanded an inquiry into the deaths or the continued incarceration of Palestinians in the Arab world.

A prominent Palestinian writer who spent three weeks in jail in Syria described the prisons there as “human slaughterhouses.”

Salameh Kaileh was arrested in April last year on suspicion of printing leaflets calling for the overthrow of Bashar Assad.

“It was hell on earth,” Kaileh told The Associated Press. “I felt I was going to die under the brutal, savage and continuous beating of the interrogators, who tied me to ropes hung from the ceiling.

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The Case for the Death Penalty for Terrorists in Israel

Kerry calls out Israel’s own weakness. Arabs have little reason to expect that law will be enforced and crime duly punished.

Att’y Joseph M. Sabag

Shock and outrage have resonated through the pro-Israel world after a thinly-veiled threat was directed at Israel by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry last week. As part of the Obama Administration’s ongoing effort to strong-arm Israel into coughing up harmful concessions to the Palestinian Authority, Kerry warned that if the present negotiations fail Israel will face an “intifada” – the Arabic expression for a violent terrorist uprising.

Traditionally, it has been the tactic of the Arabs to combine the threat of violence with diplomacy. The outrage in this instance stems from the sorry sight of the United States likewise stooping to the low level of threatening the lives of innocent Israeli civilians, in the name of “peace” no less. The danger, of course, is that the U.S. has now irresponsibly provided a motive and justification for an eruption of Arab violence.

The core assumption in Secretary Kerry’s remark is that Israel lacks the self-respect and confidence to carry out justice, and shall instead willingly suffer some measure of Palestinian-Arab terrorism. Though Kerry is certainly seeking to prey upon it, this is a weakness of Israel’s own making.

A bill must immediately be filed in the Knesset to institute capital punishment. Such a bill will serve two important purposes. 1) Even the mere prospect of its passage will command respect and deter the possibility of terrorist violence against Israel; and 2) It will launch an important conversation within Israeli government and society about one of the key reasons for the State’s very existence – the protection of Jewish life.

What Secretary Kerry has helped to highlight is that among Israel’s most pressing domestic problems remains the systemic failure of justice and law enforcement in governing the Arab residents living within its jurisdiction. Israel does indeed have the ability to prosecute and punish crime.  The prohibition against its actually doing so, however, is an informal but key aspect of the “peace process” that has been translated into judicial, military and police operational culture.

Proponents of anti-Zionist, appeasement policies refer to this restraint as “the price of peace” as if there were something noble about it. The result is that the Arabs have little reason to expect that law will be enforced and crime duly punished.

The overall consequence of the deficiencies in Israel’s execution of justice and law enforcement is that there is a significant lack of deterrence, thereby proliferating crime instead. Thus, as an example, we see a strategic land grab being conducted via the construction of tens of thousands of illegal structures by the Arabs in regions throughout Israel and Jerusalem. More importantly, hardly a day goes by without some act of violence to report.

The large numbers of Arab youths who hurl rocks and firebombs demonstrate the clear understanding that Israel does not mete out punishment. This understanding is even more so evidenced by the encouraging parents and elders who see no risk in their children’s behavior. All of this has an emboldening effect. By the time they reach their teenage years many of these children are ready to commit serious acts of property damage, violence and even murder.

Nothing can better demonstrate the breakdown of justice and law enforcement in Israel than a simple glance at the expectation of an Arab terrorist who commits murder. An act of murder, or mass murder for that matter, will not be met by capital punishment. Instead, the murderer will receive multiple life sentences, a legal and moral farce suggesting he has more than one life that can be taken from him. In prison he can expect a variety of comforts and rights. While incarcerated the murderer will be glorified as a hero by his people and might even have societal institutions named in his honor if he’s killed enough Jews. His family will receive payments and subsidies, some of which comes at U.S. taxpayer expense.

Most importantly, the Arab terrorist who commits murder can expect that his release is only a matter of time, dependent simply upon the next prisoner exchange or “goodwill gesture” that will be forced upon Israel.

How can anyone who cares about Israel not be gravely concerned by such legal and moral backwardness? Such a profound failure of the system of justice and law enforcement stands in direct opposition to the value that Judaism and Zionism place upon the protection of life. Furthermore, it increases the likelihood that Israel will face an intifada and further violence. It’s time for Israel to muster the confidence to carry out justice and enforce the law, and exercise the moral clarity to institute capital punishment for crimes that deserve no less.

Neither Israel’s allies nor her enemies will respect her until she respects herself.

The writer is an attorney and Zionist activist residing in Florida.

How American taxpayers are funding Palestinian terrorism

by Edwin Black

The son of Evyatar Borovsky, a 31-year old father of five who was killed in a terror attack, lays his head on his father's body during his funeral in the northern Israeli town of Kfar Hasidim. Borowsky was stabbed to death at a bus stop at the Tapuah Junction in the northern West Bank, April 30, 2013. (Photo credit: Avishag Shaar Yashuv/FLASH90)

The son of Evyatar Borovsky, a 31-year old father of five who was killed in a terror attack, lays his head on his father’s body during his funeral in the northern Israeli town of Kfar Hasidim. Borowsky was stabbed to death at a bus stop at the Tapuah Junction in the northern West Bank, April 30, 2013. (Photo credit: Avishag Shaar Yashuv/FLASH90)

Evyatar Borovsky, age 31, was devoted to helping people across Israel — people of any background. His way was psychodrama and other role-playing techniques calculated to coax victims, especially children, out of their traumatic fog. Often the children were survivors of terrorism. Evyatar, a clown, was part of a so-called therapeutic theatrical troupe. On April 30, 2013, Evyatar went to Tapuah Junction to catch a ride.

Salam Zaghal came from an impoverished Arab family in Shuka, a village near Tulkarm. Once, Salam tried to plant a bomb. That landed him in an Israeli prison for more than three years. When Salam was released earlier this year, he had no job and no economic prospects. His family lived on the edge. Money was scarce. As Salam became more disconsolate, his brother Abdulfattah remembered, Salam increasingly began “talking more and more about the martyrdom of the prisoners in Israeli jails.”

April 30, 2013, shortly after dawn, Zaghal jumped onto a bus for the long drive to Tapuah Junction. He carried a blue plastic bag. Two items were secreted inside the bag. Zaghal asked to be dropped about 60 meters down the way from the intersection. When he stepped off the bus, he lit a cigarette. Then Zaghal texted his brother Abdulfattah. “My dear brother, take care of dad, mom and my sister, and keep your head up.” Zaghal sent a second text to his family: “Forgive me in life, in death, and in the end of days.” Then he broke his phone so no one could call back and dissuade him.

At 8:15 a.m., Evyatar was standing about, looking somewhere over there, oblivious to the Arab hitchhikers congregated nearby. Zaghal approached, carrying his blue plastic bag, which contained a piece of paper — a prosecution notice from a previous run-in with Israeli security, and a kitchen knife almost eight inches long. Suddenly, Zaghal screamed, “Allahu Akbar!” and “There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is his messenger.” Zaghal plunged the metal blade directly into Evyatar’s stomach and then again deep into his chest. A moment later, the medical clown lay on the ground, his life leaking quickly onto the asphalt. Salam then grabbed Evyatar’s gun, but before he could inflict more carnage, nearby border guards shot him. The killer was not shot in the head or upper body, but in the leg. In an instant, Evyatar — the clown with the big heart — was gone, stabbed to death. As for Salam, he was rushed to an Israeli hospital with a non-life-threatening leg wound. There, Salam received Israel’s world-renowned medical attention.

Soon, Salam will go on a special Palestinian Authority salary granted to terrorists, and will become one of the best compensated individuals in the Palestinian community.

Financing the Flames, by Edwin Black

Financing the Flames, by Edwin Black

It may astound many that American taxpayers are deploying their precious dollars in Israel not just to pay for peace but to fund terrorism. Each year, American aid and financial programs fungibly fund terrorist salaries paid by the Palestinian Authority. This astonishing financial dynamic is known to most Israeli leaders and Western journalists in Israel. It has been written about at least twice in The Times of Israel. But it is still a shock to most in Congress, who are unaware that US money going to the Palestinian Authority is regularly diverted to a program that systematically rewards terrorists with generous salaries. These transactions blatantly violate American laws that prohibit any US funding from benefiting terrorists. More than that, they grandly incentivize murder and terror.

Here’s how the system works. When a Palestinian is convicted of an act of terror against the Israeli government or innocent civilians, such as a bombing or a murder, that convicted terrorist automatically receives a generous salary from the Palestinian Authority. The salary is specified by the Palestinian Law of the Prisoner and administered by the PA’s Ministry of Prisoner Affairs. A Palestinian watchdog group, the Prisoners Club, ensures the PA’s compliance with the law and pushes for payments as a prioritized expenditure. This means that even during frequent budget shortfalls and financial crisis, the PA pays the terrorists’ salaries first and foremost — before other fiscal obligations.

The Law of the Prisoner narrowly delineates just who is entitled to receive an official salary. In a recent interview, Ministry of Prisoners spokesman Amr Nasser read aloud that definition: “A detainee is each and every person who is in an Occupation prison based on his or her participation in the resistance to Occupation.” This means crimes against Israel or Israelis. Nasser was careful to explain, “It does not include common-law thieves and burglars. They are not included and are not part of the mandate of the Ministry.”

Under a sliding scale, carefully articulated in the Law of the Prisoner, the more heinous the act of terrorism and the longer the prison sentence, the higher is the salary. Detention for up to three years fetches a salary of almost $400 per month. Prisoners incarcerated between three and five years will be paid about $560 monthly — a compensation level already higher than that for many ordinary West Bank jobs. Sentences of 10 to 15 years fetch salaries of about $1,690 per month. More severe acts of terrorism, those punished with sentences between 15 and 20 years, earn almost $2,000 per month. These are the best salaries in the Palestinian territories. The Arabic word ratib, meaning “salary,” is the official term for this compensation. The law ensures the greatest financial reward for the most egregious acts of terrorism.

In the Palestinian community, the salaries are no secret — they are publicly hailed in public speeches and special TV reports. From time to time, the salaries are augmented with special additional financial incentives. For example, in 2009, a $150-per-prisoner bonus was approved to mark the religious holiday of Eid al-Adha. President Mahmoud Abbas also directed that an extra $190 “be added to the stipends given to Palestinians affiliated with PLO factions in Israeli prisons this month.” Reporting on the additional emolument, the Palestinian news service Ma’an explained, “Each PLO-affiliated prisoner [already] receives [a special allocation of] $238 per month, plus an extra $71 if they are married, and an extra $12 for each child. The stipend is paid by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) each month.”

About 6 percent of the Palestinian budget is diverted to terrorist salaries. All this money comes from so-called “donor countries” such as the United States, Great Britain, Norway, and Denmark. Palestinian officials have reacted with defiance to any foreign governmental effort to end the salaries. “Deputy Minister of Prisoners Affairs Ziyad Abu Ein declared to the satellite TV network Hona Al-Quds: ‘If the financial assistance and support to the PA are stopped, the [payment of] salaries (rawatib) and allowances (mukhassasat) to Palestinian prisoners will not be stopped, whatever the cost may be. The prisoners are our joy. We will sacrifice everything for them and continue to provide for their families.”

Even though many in Israel do not completely understand all the details and the schedule of compensation, the victims are wracked by a basic knowledge that a cruel system is at play.

Israeli security forces and others at the site of a terror attack, at a bus stop at the Tapuah Junction in the northern West Bank, in which Evyatar Borovsky was stabbed to death. April 30, 2013. (Photo credit: Flash90.)

Israeli security forces and others at the site of a terror attack at a bus stop at the Tapuah Junction in the northern West Bank, in which Evyatar Borovsky was stabbed to death. April 30, 2013. (Photo credit: Flash90)

At the funeral, Evyatar’s widow, Tzofia, bent over her husband’s body in lamentation, waving five fingers. “Five orphans he left behind! Five orphans! Five orphans!” she cried. One young son rested his head upon his father’s prayer-shawl-shrouded chest in a striking image that made the rounds in Israeli press.

Later, in a court hearing, Tzofia said of her husband’s killer, “It is really useless to put him in jail, when one takes into account that he will be released in one swap or another, and will use his time there for academic studies free of charge, and the high standard of living that the State of Israel gives the murderers of its citizens. The continued court proceedings and jailing of the murderer until the next release of murderers, which will take place sooner or later, creates a false impression of justice, when the reality is that of a circus.”

Edwin Black is the award-winning author of the international bestseller “IBM and the Holocaust.” This article is the second of two pieces — following Financing the flames from a mobile home in Florida — published by The Times of Israel drawn from his just-released book, “Financing the Flames: How Tax-Exempt and Public Money Fuel a Culture of Confrontation and Terrorism in Israel.”
Copyright 2013 Edwin Black
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