At the insistence of the Israel Prison Service (IPS), Israel’s Postal Bank acts in violation of Israel’s Counter-Terrorism Act by transferring money from the Palestinian Authority to imprisoned terrorists for use in the prison canteen, Yediot Aharonot reported on Monday (בחסות שב”ס: מענקי הטרור למחבלים).
The IPS admitted that the PA transfers approximately NIS 400 ($124) every month to each terrorist in Israeli prisons via the Postal Bank.
The Jewish Press reported on Monday that Israel transferred the tax money it collected on behalf of the Palestinian Authority after offsetting NIS 100 million ($31 million). The offset was made in accordance with the cabinet decision and according to a calculation presented by the IDF and the Finance Ministry as an estimate of the sums of money the PA transferred to the families of terrorists between the years 2019-2020 (Bennett Cabinet Cuts Taxes Collected for PA by $31 Million Paid Out to Terrorists).
According to information uncovered by the NGOs Lavi and Im Tirtzu via the Freedom of Information Act, a special clause in the contract between the IPS and the Postal Bank stipulates that the IPS will compensate the Postal Bank should the latter be sued for violating the Counter-Terrorism Act.
“The IPS will bear the consequences of any verdict against the company (Postal Bank) due to a lawsuit alleging a violation of the Counter-Terrorism Act due to the obligations of the company toward the IPS,” states section 8a of the contract that was signed in 2007 and is renewed automatically every year.
Section 31 of the Counter-Terrorism Act stipulates that one who finances terrorism shall be subject to ten year’s imprisonment or a heavy fine.
The two NGOs revealed that from 2017 to 2019, the Postal Bank transferred some NIS 100 million ($31 million) from the PA to terrorists for use at prison canteens.
“It is inconceivable that the IPS would ignore the Counter-Terrorism Act to maintain an ‘industrial peace’ in the prisons,” said Lt. Col. (res.) Maurice Hirsch, Head of Legal Strategies for Palestinian Media Watch and former Chief IDF Prosecutor for Judea and Samaria.
Lavi Chairman Avichay Buaron said that the partnership between the IPS and the Postal Bank in transferring PA funds to terrorists is a blatant violation of the Counter-Terrorism Act.
Im Tirtzu CEO Matan Peleg called the agreement a “shameful capitulation to terror.”
The IPS responded: “The Postal Bank is the operational arm of the government and works in connection with it, and the 2007 contract was done after full examination and supervision by the State Attorney’s Office. The transfer of funds to security prisoners via canteen accounts at the Postal Bank is done in accordance with the law, as the funds of the PA aren’t transferred directly to the prisoners. As of this moment, we are unaware of any verdict or decision against the Postal Bank or its employees for violating the Counter-Terrorism Act, and never, as far as we know, was a complaint made about this to the IPS.”
The Justice Ministry responded: “Following an in-depth discussion by then-Deputy State Prosecutor for Special Functions Shai Nitzan, a system was set in place under which the accounts of all of the security prisoners would be under the name of the Prisons Service, which would manage them as a trustee with power of attorney for every prisoner. As a result of this, an agreement was signed with the Israel Postal Company after it had been examined and investigated at the time by the relevant entities and approved from a legal perspective. This system operates in accordance with the law, and there is ongoing supervision of how it is implemented. The Prison Service can at any time send the Postal Bank a list of people who are prevented from depositing money in accounts, following which the Postal Bank is prohibited from receiving deposits from them.”