Biden admin accused of aiding Palestinian 'pay for slay' as terrorists profit in Hamas deal, experts claim
Amid a cease-fire deal between Israel and the Palestinian terrorist entity Hamas, scores of convicted Palestinian terrorists and criminals were released and will embolden more terrorism, say experts.
JERUSALEM - Many of the newly released convicted Palestinian terrorists who are part of a swap that secured the freedom of some Israeli and foreign hostages held by the terrorist movement Hamas could receive U.S. funds via the Palestinian Authority, an expert on the matter claimed.
Itamar Marcus, director of Palestinian Media Watch (PMW), an Israeli-based organization researching Palestinian society, told Fox News Digital, "The American and European funding boosts the Palestinian Authority budget by $600 million. The Palestinian Authority pays the salaries of imprisoned terrorists and the family members of the martyrs and the amount comes to $300 million a year."
Marcus continued, "There is no doubt that the Palestinian Authority could not pay this funding without the boost of funding from the Americans and Europeans. The Americans and Europeans are absolutely facilitating the payment. It is willful blindness."
He noted, "Every single terrorist gets a salary from the Palestinian Authority once they are imprisoned." According to Palestinian law, Marcus said, a prisoner who serves more than five years in prison receives a monthly salary for life.
The release of the Palestinian terrorists comes after Fox News Digital reported on a lawsuit in January by victims of terrorism and Rep. Ronny Jackson., R-Texas, alleging the Biden administration pumped more than a half billion U.S. taxpayer dollars into the Palestinian Authority without verifying that the organization isn’t funding terrorism, according to a federal lawsuit.
The Palestinian Authority, which controls the West Bank (known in Israel by its biblical name of Judea and Samaria), has paid the families of the convicted Palestinians a stipend while their family members were incarcerated as part of the notorious "pay for slay" program.
Marcus from PMW provided Fox News Digital a list of nine just-released Palestinian terrorists who will receive monthly payments ranging from approximately $535 to $668 for Jerusalem residents.
Shurouq Dweiyat, a Palestinian resident of Jerusalem’s Sur Baher neighborhood, was convicted of attempted murder in Jerusalem’s Old City, after she sought to stab two Jews in October 2015 and wounded one of them. She was imprisoned for eight years.
Amani Al-Hashim, a 31-year-old female Palestinian from East Jerusalem attempted to run over Israeli security forces with her car at the Qalandiya checkpoint on Dec. 13, 2016. Israeli forces opened fire, at which point she got out of the car with a knife and started shouting, "Allahu Akbar" before being arrested. Al-Hashim was serving a sentence of 10 years. She was in prison for seven years.
Israeli Gen. Yossi Kuperwasser told Fox News Digital that many of the convicted Palestinians released over the last few days as part of a truce with Hamas will return to terrorism.
Kuperwasser said of the released terrorists, "Those with sentences for more than five years were paid. Many of them were sentenced to more than five years. Many of them are still committed to the terrorist struggle against Israel. Past experience tells us they will re-enter terrorism."
The Israeli reserve general, now a senior researcher at the Israeli Defense Security Forum, added, however, "Each case has to be looked at by itself."
According to Palestinian media, over 7,500 released Palestinian prisoners who served more than a five-year prison term have received monthly salaries.
Israel’s government and counterterrorism experts have long argued that the so-called moderate Palestinian Authority controlled by Mahmoud Abbas encourages terrorism with its "pay for slay" program.
Khaled Abu Toameh, a Palestinian affairs analyst, told Fox News Digital, "I don't know if some of the released prisoners will return to terrorism, but it's possible that others will now be emboldened to carry out attacks against Israel knowing that they could be released in a prisoner exchange deal."
Abu Toameh, who is widely viewed as one of the leading Middle East experts on the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, added, "The release of the Palestinian prisoners will undoubtedly boost Hamas’ popularity and influence in the West Bank. We saw hundreds of Palestinians celebrating the release of the prisoners with Hamas flags and slogans praising the group’s leaders and its military wing. This is bad news for the Palestinian Authority, whose security forces did not stop the celebrations."
Toameh posted a picture on X, formerly known as Twitter, with the comment: "In Ramallah, masked Hamas members celebrating the release of more Palestinian prisoners from Israeli prison. They chanted: ‘We are the men of Mohammed Deif.'"
Mohammed Deif is the commander behind Hamas’ Oct. 7 terrorist attack in southern Israel that led to the slaughter of 1,200 people and kidnapping of some 240 individuals, including young children.
Fox News Digital contacted the U.S. State Department for a comment about the possible misuse of U.S. funds sent to the Palestinian Authority but, as of press time, has not received a comment on the accusations saying the U.S. is indirectly funding terrorists.
The effort to crack down on Hamas’ financing is now front-and-center in the minds of many counterterrorism officials in Israel, the U.S. and Europe after the Oct. 7 massacre.
Money is highly fungible and vulnerable to terror finance in Mideast countries and regions that are not regulated by modern anti-terrorism standards, according to security officials.
In 2018, in a sign of protest, Congress passed the Taylor Force Act aimed at cutting economic aid to the Palestinian Authority until it ends the payment policy. In addition, Israel, which collects some taxes on commerce and income on behalf of the Palestinian governing body, has passed a similar law.
Taylor Force was a West Point graduate who served in Afghanistan and Iraq. He was pursuing his MBA at Vanderbilt, and was savagely knifed to death March 8, 2016, by a Palestinian terrorist during a tour of Israel. President Trump signed the Taylor Force Act into law in October 2018.
Kuperwasser, who has written extensively about the dangers of the Hamas rulers in Gaza, said the cease-fire agreement is "is a done deal. We have to go along with it."
Fox News Digital contacted Israel’s Foreign Ministry for comment. The ministry deferred to the Office of the Prime Minister, and a spokesman for Benjamin Netanyahu told Fox News Digital they are "not offering comment at this juncture."
A spokesperson for the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority did not immediately answer a Fox News Digital press query.
Fox News' Ruth Marks Eglash and Fred Lucas contributed to this report.