Dozens of Hamas terrorists once imprisoned by Israel did not receive their support payments this month from the group’s political rival Fatah, headed by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, a Gaza-based official said Sunday.
Abbas is under pressure from the US and Israel to halt monthly payments to thousands of current and former prisoners who were held for terror attacks and murdering Israeli civilians. Israel claims the stipends encourage terrorism, while Palestinians say they are welfare payments.
It was not clear if the missing money transfers meant Abbas decided to stop the payments to some of the ex-prisoners. A spokesman for his West Bank-based autonomy government was not immediately available for comment Sunday.
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’s Fatah movement.
Abdelrahman Shadid, who runs a Hamas-linked prisoner advocacy group in Gaza, said dozens of ex-prisoners from Hamas had not received their salaries as scheduled.
“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 Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit for more than 1,000 prisoners held by Israel. Among those who didn’t receive their stipends was only one from Fatah, and the rest were from Hamas, said Shadid.
The Palestinian Authority has paid out some NIS 4 billion — or $1.12 billion — over the past four years to terrorists and their families, a former director general of the Ministry of Strategic Affairs and ex-head of the army’s intelligence and research division told a top Knesset panel last Monday.
In an apparent public upbraiding of Abbas over the payments, US President Donald Trump told him at their joint press conference in Bethlehem on May 23: “Peace can never take root in an environment where violence is tolerated, funded or rewarded.”