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Pay for Slay

Israel Update – Week of February 26, 2024 

Pay for Slay: This week, I will stray from my usual format of presenting a topic gleaned from multiple sources.  Instead, I will zoom into one bombshell article that I read over the weekend in “Makor Rishon'' that made my jaw drop. Makor Rishon is a Hebrew-language newspaper that caters to the politically  conservative religiously traditional crowd. It sees itself as a foil to Haaretz, the favored news outlet of the left-wing anti-religious crowd. Makor Rishon comes out once a  week on Friday and it is an essential part of my Shabbat reading. 

This week, one article simply blew me away. To be more accurate, it blew my wife away. As soon as  she finished reading it, she brought it to my attention – even though that entailed waking me up  from my well-deserved Friday-night nap. I will summarize that article below. The article, called “Submitting the Bill (Megisha et haHeshbon),” was written by Hodaya Karish-Hazony (HKH), a long-time writer in Makor Rishon. The subtext of the article reads, “4000 Shekels a month for a Molotov cocktail, 6000 for a knife attack, bonuses for families of the [Hamas] “Nuchba” brigade  that committed the October 7 atrocities, and seniority pay for each year spent in prison.” In Israel,  “Nuchba” has the same connotations as “Gestapo.” When I saw that, I dove into the article. 

In the article, HKH interviewed Lital Shemesh, who has spent the past few years working for the  right-wing Channel 14 news. The topic of the interview was a new book recently released by  Shemesh, called “How Much is a Dead Jew Worth?” The book describes the various sources of  income of the Palestinian Authority (PA), especially the funding it receives from the Israeli Government, as well as how the money is doled out, especially to Palestinians who have been  incarcerated in Israeli prisons for acts of terror in what is often referred to as “Pay for Slay.” The  data, which comes from Palestinian Authority (PA) salary data readily available on the “Al Hayat al Jedeida” website, is nothing less than shocking: 

  • For throwing a Molotov Cocktail, each terrorist receives a monthly stipend of 4000 Shekels. 

  • For knifing and seriously injuring an Israeli “teen,” each terrorist receives a monthly stipend of  6000 Shekels. (If the teen is not seriously injured, the stipend is lower.)

  • The key parameter used in determining the amount of the stipend is time spent in prison, which  in turn, is determined by the severity of the crime. For example, from his fifth year in jail, a  terrorist will earn more than the average Palestinian salary, which, in turn, is significantly  greater than the Palestinian minimum wage. 

  • Abdulla Barghouthi, one of the heads of the Hamas military wing in the West Bank, who was  sentenced in November 2004 to 67 life sentences in prison, has, over the past twenty years, been paid by the PA more than one million shekels. 

  • While it is well known that the PA funds terrorists from the West Bank, it is less well known that  the PA also funds Gazan terrorists, as well as Israeli Arabs who have committed acts of terror. In  fact, Israeli Arabs and Arabs from East Jerusalem receive bonuses for their crimes owing to the fact that they are Israeli citizens.  

  • When a Palestinian terrorist is released from Israeli prison, his time served counts towards his  seniority if he chooses to take employment in PA public service. It is considered as if he has been  “working” all the time he has spent in prison. For example, in the November 2023 hostage terrorist exchange (in which 10 Palestinian terrorists exchanged for each Israeli hostage), a number of terrorists refused to be freed from prison because they had not accrued “sufficient” jail time and they would be released with insufficient seniority. They actually preferred to continue sitting in  prison than to be freed. 

  • Shemesh interviewed Morris Hirsch, an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) lawyer, who told her about multiple cases in which the lawyer of a terrorist would request a more harsh sentence than that mandated by the IDF so as to receive a higher stipend from the PA.  

What angers Shemesh more than anything else is that the Israeli Government is complicit, and plays right into the hands of the PA. (The U.S. is no different, claims Shemesh, but as the U.S. plays by different rules, she chose to zero in on particularly the Israeli Government). She believes that over the years, Israel has become “confused,” blurring the line between “peace” and “quiet”: Quiet can be purchased while peace cannot. She believes that Israel’s certainty that only the PA can maintain the quiet in the West Bank is patently false. They fear that if the PA is destroyed, then something more nefarious and more violent will replace it. Shemesh hopes that the events of October 7 will recalibrate Israeli officials. Mahmoud al Aloul, the second-in-charge to Mahmoud Abbas, the Chair of the PA, was recently quoted as saying “Even if only pennies (prutot) remain in our coffer, the money will go to the families of the “Shahidim (Martyrs)” and of the prisoners. The PA is not only speaking; they are acting. In the thirty days following October 7, the PA transferred more than three million dollars to the families of the 1500 Hamas terrorists who were killed during the massacre. Each family of a terrorist received a bonus one-time payment of 7,400 shekels in  recognition of the “act of courage” of their family member who died while killing Jews. Currently,  7% of the PA budget goes to the families of terrorists. “The truth is,” says Shemesh, “that this money – that comes from Israel – incentivizes terror and the murder of Jews.”  

Shemesh makes other fascinating points, noting that the schoolbooks glorifying terrorism and  demonizing Jews that are used in Gaza that have garnered the attention of the world media are all  written and printed in the West Bank by the PA. According to Shemesh, the entire system from  cradle to grave is designed to maximize the probability of a Palestinian murdering an Israeli.  

At the end of the article, HKH asks Shemesh if she is optimistic and believes that the situation will  one day improve. Shemesh answers that she wrote the book so that Israelis will read it and wake  up. She hopes that it will be read by decision-makers who will use it to improve their decisions. But  she is not hopeful. As she was writing the book, her uncle was killed by a Hamas terrorist in the  town of Hawara while he was having his car washed. “I heard on television that day, people asking  what he and his son were even doing in Hawara.” Didn’t they know it was a hornet’s nest? And then  she continues, “And you tell yourself – they are murdering us all over the country. My generation  was naïve – we believed that if we knew the person, nothing would happen to him (Her uncle was a  friend of the carwash owner for years. The carwash owner phoned the Hamas terrorist, telling him  that an easy kill was waiting in his carwash).” 

Shemesh’s story is as compelling as her facts. Israelis wanted the Gazan problem to go away, and so we tried to keep the peace with Qatari cash. We wanted the Palestinian problem to go away, and so we tried to keep it quiet with money that is paying for slaying. Israel must understand that the source of the problem is in the Palestinian Authority (PA), who glorify terror, who fund it, and who perpetuate it. A wakeup call is critical before it is too late. October 7 showed Israel that her worst nightmares can come true, especially if she, herself, is creating them. 

Good things, 

Ari Sacher

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