by Itamar Marcus and Maurice Hirsch, Adv.
The Palestinian Authority is abusing the good will of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to pay salaries to Palestinian Authority terrorists in Israeli prisons. Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) has written to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu informing him of this abuse, and suggested a means to rectify the situation. Following is a special report on the subject.
According to Palestinian Authority law, all Palestinians arrested for security offenses, which includes those who committed terror attacks, receive a PA salary from the date of arrest until the day of release. These salaries increase according to the amount of time the terrorist remains in prison and range from 1,400 shekels to 12,000 shekels per month.
While the PA claims to foreign governments that these payments are “social welfare benefits” and not salaries, PMW has shown that this is false. (See appendix below)
The ICRC supplies the forms that enable the payments to terrorists
The PA Regulation 18 (2010), which established procedures for the PA payments to terrorist prisoners, states that a “wakil” – an “authorized agent” or “power of attorney” – will be appointed by the prisoner to determine who receives his salary. The regulation gives the prisoner the right to designate people other than his wife or parents.
Appointment of an “agent” can be authorized only by the prisoner’s signature on a special form. It is the ICRC that visits the prisoners and brings the form for the prisoners to sign.
The following is the exact text of the Regulation (emphasis added):
“Authorized agent: The person who is authorized to receive the salary in the name of the prisoner.”
“1. If the prisoner is married, his wife will be his authorized agent, unless the prisoner appoints someone else instead of her.
2. If the prisoner is not married, one of his parents will be the authorized agent. If there is an argument about it, the prisoner will determine which one of them or any other person will be the authorized agent.
3. Authorization of an agent is done by an authorization of agent [form] issued by the Red Cross, that is signed by the prisoner, or by a personal authorization of agent [form] signed by him and approved by a lawyer of the Ministry [of Prisoners’ Affairs] and by the General Administration for Legal Matters of the Ministry. The form will be valid for use by the Ministry only for the purpose of the salary.”
[PA regulation 18, 2010, PA Ministry of Prisoners’ Affairs,
http://freedom.ps/attachments/25-5-2011/02.pdf, accessed Oct. 30, 2012]
Accordingly, the ICRC by supplying this form is facilitating salary payments to terrorists, something that is not part of the humanitarian work of the ICRC.
Based on the above findings, the Director of PMW’s Legal Department notified the ICRC and asked for their response.
The ICRC in its response differentiated between two types of prisoners, “internees” and “detainees.” “Detainees” includes those arrested, indicted or convicted of terrorism (see articles 66, 69 and 76 of Fourth Geneva Convention – GCIV), which includes the imprisoned Palestinian terrorists. In its response to PMW, about the “detainees” the ICRC referred to article 10 of GCIV which provides:
“The provisions of the present Convention constitute no obstacle to the humanitarian activities which the International Committee of the Red Cross or any other impartial humanitarian organization may, subject to the consent of the Parties to the conflict concerned, undertake for the protection of civilian persons and for their relief.” (Emphasis added)
Since facilitating the payments of salaries to terrorists is not something the ICRC is compelled by GCIV to provide, and is certainly not part of the humanitarian work of the ICRC, all services to “detainees” requires the “consent of the Parties.” This means that the ICRC cannot facilitate these payments to terrorists without the consent of the Israeli government.
While it is unclear whether the ICRC knew, prior to PMW’s query, that the PA is using the form it provides as a means to pay the terrorist salaries, the ICRC’s response to PMW’s inquiry stated that the organization provides the function as a “humanitarian” activity.
PMW has notified Prime Minister Netanyahu of the ICRC activity
As mentioned, the activities of the ICRC as regards “detainees” are based on Article 10 of GCIV, which requires the consent of the Israeli Authorities. Since Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called numerous times for the Palestinian Authority to stop paying salaries to terrorist prisoners, today PMW has written to the Prime Minister to inform him that the ICRC in fact is facilitating the salary payments to terrorist prisoners. We have asked the Prime Minister, in his capacity as Minister of Foreign Affairs, to verify if Israel gave its consent to the ICRC to provide this authorization form to terrorists which facilitates their receiving salaries from the PA.
Certainly, if that consent was given in the past, based on current Israeli policy it should now be revoked.
The PA salaries to imprisoned terrorists is not humanitarian or social welfare for families but is in fact a salary to the terrorist prisoner himself
PA payments to terrorists are not social welfare for the families but are salaries to the terrorists themselves.
The PA law itself uses the term “salary” [See: Palestinian Authority Government resolution # 23 of 2010 and Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, April 15, 2011].
An attempt by some PA members to change the language of the law from “salary” to “social assistance” was blocked and the law remained unchanged [See: Minister of Prisoners’ Affairs Issa Karake – WAFA news agency, Dec. 27, 2012 and Chairman of the Prisoners’ Club Qadura Fares – Al-Quds Internet edition, Dec. 27, 2012].
The payment is paid based on “time served” by the terrorist and irrespective of financial needs of the family of the terrorist [See: Al-Quds, Jan. 3, 2010, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, April 15, 2011] and is subject to income tax [Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, June 19, 2011].
Single prisoners receive the same basic high salaries as those married with children. While social welfare benefits are universally calculated as a portion of the minimum or average salary, the salaries paid to the terrorists are quite clearly not social welfare benefits, as they are based on the number of years a prisoner has served time in jail.