A representative for Palestinian prisoners in Gaza reports 277 released prisoners aligned with Hamas have not received their monthly ‘stipends for murderer.’
• A released terrorist: “We believe Palestinian Authority has succumbed to U.S., Israeli pressure.”
By The Associated Press, Reuters & Israel Hayom Staff
Scores of former Palestinian prisoners freed by Israel and living in the Gaza Strip said on Sunday their stipends from the Western-backed Palestinian Authority have been suspended in an apparent bid to appease Israel and the United States.
A spokesman for Palestinian prisoners said that 277 freed prisoners in the Gaza Strip, most of whom are aligned with the Islamist terrorist Hamas group that runs the coastal enclave, were surprised to find their May stipends had not been paid.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has demanded that the Palestinians, who view the prisoners as national heroes, stop paying stipends to the prisoners and their families, and U.S. lawmakers have warned that Palestinian funding could be cut off unless Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas halts the practice.
It was not immediately clear whether the missing money transfers meant Abbas has decided to stop the payments to some of the ex-prisoners. A Palestinian Authority spokesman was not immediately available for comment Sunday.
Israel says the payments are a reward and encouragement for the prisoners’ actions against, it but the Palestinians say they are welfare payments to support them and their families.
In the past, Abbas was reluctant to halt the payments, fearing a popular backlash. Support for prisoners is a Palestinian consensus issue, despite the political split between Hamas, which rules Gaza, and the West Bank-based government of Abbas’ Fatah movement.
“The prisoners went to the banks today and found no salaries in their accounts,” he said. “We are waiting to hear from the bank officially tomorrow to see if this is a salary stop.”
Shadid said those affected had been released in 2011 when Hamas traded captive Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit for more than 1,000 prisoners held by Israel. Among those who did not receive their stipends, only one belongs to Fatah, and the rest to Hamas, said Shadid.
Zaid Al-Kilani, a Hamas terrorist who was serving a life sentence before he was freed in the 2011 prisoner swap, said, “Abbas is punishing freed prisoners by suspending the salaries they and their families rely on. … We believe the Palestinian Authority has succumbed to American and Israeli pressure.” he said.
Hamas lawmaker Ayman Daraghmeh said that 47 lawmakers did not receive their June salaries and when they inquired with Gaza’s Finance Ministry they were told it was “orders from above.”
Palestinian Authority officials were not available for comment but the move may also be an attempt by Abbas to force reconciliation between the Fatah movement, which holds sway in the West Bank, and Hamas, which controls Gaza.
Some 6,500 Palestinians are being held in Israeli jails, many of whom were convicted of carrying out terror attacks or planning terror attacks against Israelis.
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