Photo Credit: Moshe Shai/FLASH90
Security prisoners' families during visiting session at Ofer Prison, Israel.

Banks in the Palestinian Authority (PA) have recently begun to close accounts owned by terrorists who were released from Israeli through which they receive stipends from the PA following an Israeli warning that the funds in the banks will be considered terror funding.

Legislation that took effect on Saturday applies substantial parts of Israel’s Anti-Terror Law to Judea and Samaria. The new legislation provides that any person who conducts any transaction with assets, including money, in order to facilitate, further, fund, or reward a person for carrying out terror-related offenses, is himself committing an offense punishable with 10 years in prison and a substantial fine.

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The PA has a policy of paying monthly stipends to the families of convicted terrorists imprisoned in Israel, released terrorists and terrorists killed while committing their attacks. The payments have been criticized as a financial incentive to commit terrorist attacks against Israelis.

Bank branches have informed the former prisoners and their families that they must withdraw the balance of the money from their accounts before they are closed and that the paycheck paid to them by the PA through the bank will be the last.

Sources report that family members were asked to arrive at the branches and sign account closure documents.

The Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) has recently dispatched a letter warning bank officials that failing to close the accounts could result in potential criminal and civil action for aiding and abetting the payment of the PA’s terror rewards to terrorist prisoners

Sources have told TPS that there is a serious concern among bank administrators in the PA and eastern Jerusalem over the accounts of prisoners’ families, after receiving the warning letter that the prisoners’ money will be considered terrorist funds and the banks themselves will be exposed to legal action.

PMW noted that based on the speed by which the PA banks are responding to its letter, it seems that it “accurately identified the banks as the weak link in the PA’s terror reward program.”

Many of these banks are foreign banks that conduct business internationally and would not want to be faced by the threat of criminal or civil proceedings for supporting terrorism.

This step by the banks has raised criticism among prisoners and terrorist organizations who have accused the banks of surrendering to Israel and are calling for punitive measures against them. The prisoners have called on PA to act against the banks.

Hamas has also threatened to take action against the banks because of what it called their “surrender to the Israeli dictates and threats.”

Hamas senior official Majd Hassan has called urged the Arab public to boycott any bank that acts against the prisoners.

Azam a-Shaw, a senior PA financial official, denied that the banks had decided to close the accounts.

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