Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Out of the shadows

Once upon a time not so long ago public manifestations of hatred against Jews lurked mainly in the shadows…writes Michael Kuttner.

Today with memories of the Shoah fading and survivors disappearing the longest running hatred is back with virulence unseen since the days when Europe delivered its Jewish Communities to demonization and death. No longer hiding in the shadows this latest updated version of Judeophobia encompasses a wide spectrum of virulence ranging from well-worn old-fashioned hate through more sophisticated conspiracy theories to outright abhorrence of the Jewish State.

This mutation is, not coincidentally, on full display during the week Jews worldwide commemorate and mourn the victims of the Shoah. The recent International Forum on combating anti-Semitism highlighted how thanks to social media the virus can be spread with lightning speed to all corners of the globe. Once again, as in the past, university campuses have become fertile ground for these poisonous seeds to be nurtured and flourish. Watered by academics and revisionist peddlers and given a boost by many politicians the campaigns of boycotts, delegitimization and demonization are making life for Jewish students very hazardous at certain academic institutions.

When the death camps were liberated at the end of the war General Eisenhower insisted that a documentary record be made of the horrendous sights encountered. In answer to critics who questioned the necessity for undertaking this task, Eisenhower replied that “in a few years time there will be those who claim that these atrocities never occurred.”

How true and prophetic his prediction turned out to be.

However even the most optimistic person could never have foreseen that in a relatively short span of time there would once more arise in Europe those who remembered nothing or more likely preferred to erase the memory of what had occurred in their midst. Shifting the blame from perpetrator to victim and trying to blur historical events would have been unimaginable and yet today we have countries and political parties which are doing exactly that. In some Baltic countries there are parades honoring those who participated in the roundup and murder of Jews. Victims of communism are equated with the Shoah and those who defend Jews are targeted for special attention. In parts of Europe political parties tottering dangerously close to the xenophobic conspiracy theories of the past have attained power or increased their representation in national parliaments. There is even a move to rewrite history and prosecute anyone who claims that local officials and citizens were complicit in helping the Germans to carry out their genocidal plans.

Parallel to the usual reasons for hating Jews we see the rise of venom directed against the Jewish State. The age old phenomenon of self loathing individuals trying to distance themselves from their heritage is alive and well and serves as a useful tool for the media. However, of far more serious concern is the rise of hatred from those who call themselves “liberal” and who embrace every form of ethnic identity except when it comes to Jews and their historical homeland.

Those who embrace socialism and who belong to parties or movements once in the vanguard of defending Jewish rights, now find that membership entails embracing a visceral hatred of Israel. In many cases the atmosphere has become so toxic that the only alternative is to resign. The UK Labour Party has been taken over by militant groups for whom the Jewish State is anathema. Its leader by his actions and words exemplifies everything that is rotten today in circles inhabited by knee jerk anti Israel ideologues. In fact the situation has become so poisonous that this week the leader of the Israel Labour Party has broken off all relations with the UK Leader of the Opposition.

There is every possibility that after the next UK elections this individual may become Prime Minister. Will British Jews then finally wake up to reality and move to Israel or will they continue to pretend that everything in the garden is rosy? With physical attacks against Jews on the rise in Europe what will it take for the message to get through? In South America and South Africa, many young Jews have already left but once again, as in the recent past, too many will leave it too late in too many countries. Often, one hears the excuse that in Israel Jews also face terror and hate. True, but at least here we are able to confront it and nobody need fear walking down the street wearing a kippah. Interviewed recently a resident of a Scandinavian city stated “I don’t wear a kippah or anything that would make me immediately recognized as Jewish. Despite that, I love living here!”

The other source of virulent Jew hatred is exemplified by what is taught, broadcast, shown and spoken about in the Arab/Moslem world. While there are a few Islamic religious and lay individuals who preach and teach tolerance the unfortunate reality is that the overwhelming majority are being seduced by siren songs of poisonous lies and age old libels. These videos courtesy of MEMRI are just a small example of what pours forth every hour of every day.

https://www.memri.org/tv/egyptian-historian-bassam-shammaa-to-palestinetv-jews-perpetrated-counter-holocaust-against-germans

https://www.memri.org/tv/egyptian-journalist-huda-zakariya-scope-of-holocaust-a-rumor

https://www.memri.org/tv/jordantv-host-bakr-abadi-zionist-entity-sent-chemical-fertilizers-bubonic-rats-to-egypt

As we pay tribute to the victims of the Shoah, it is important to remember that the same techniques used to delegitimize Jews back then are once again being used today. Back in the 1930’s the international community remained silent and refused to act in time. Appeasement of hate and terror reigned supreme and too many preferred to look the other way or hallucinate that it was all overblown.

Do we fight back or once again keep a low profile and hope it will all blow over?

As Syria, with the help of friends, gasses its own citizens and Iran threatens to annihilate every Israeli can we confidently claim that lessons of the past have truly been learnt?

On Yom Hashoah the wailing sirens will remind us that the hate which once lurked undetected in the shadows is again out in the open.

Never again cannot remain just a slogan.

Michael Kuttner is a Jewish New Zealander who for many years was actively involved with various communal organisations connected to Judaism and Israel. He now lives in Israel and is J-Wire’s correspondent in the region.

The killing of Palestinian press photographer Yasser Murtaja by the IDF during the events of the Great March of Return highlighted a phenomenon of operatives of Hamas employed as media personnel

The death of Yasser Murtaja in the Great March of Return
  • Yasser Abdul Rahman Murtaja was a 30-year-old Palestinian press photographer and cofounder of the Ain Media production company. On April 6, 2018, Murtaja was wounded by IDF gunfire while filming the violent clashes between Palestinian demonstrators and IDF forces a few hundred meters from the border fence (in the Ikhza’a area in the southern Gaza Strip). He died of his wounds on April 7, 2018.

According to Israeli security sources, press photographer Yasser Murtaja was a Hamas operative. According to the same sources, he served for years as an officer with the rank of captain in the Hamas security services in the Gaza Strip. The same sources added, based on information that they possess, that he was an operative who was active in the security services on a daily basis and greatly assisted them in their activity. The same security sources added that in March 2015, Murtaja attempted to bring a drone from Israel to the Gaza Strip to collect preliminary intelligence before operations by the Hamas security services. Of late, Yasser Murtaja continued to work with senior Hamas internal security officials in the Gaza Strip, many of whom made condolence calls at his family’s home (Walla News website, article by Amir Bohbot, April 10, 2018).

Senior Hamas police officials in the Gaza Strip, headed by Police Commissioner Taysir al-Batsh (right), making a condolence call (Gaza Police website, April 8, 2018)
Senior Hamas police officials in the Gaza Strip, headed by Police Commissioner Taysir al-Batsh (right), making a condolence call (Gaza Police website, April 8, 2018)

  • The death of Yasser Murtaja was exploited by Hamas and the Palestinians for a propaganda campaign against Israel, in complete disregard of his affiliation with Hamas. On April 8, 2018, the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate (PJS) held a demonstration in front of the UN headquarters in Gaza City, denouncing Israel’s so-called aggression towards journalists. Tahseen al-Astal, a member of the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate, accused Israel of shooting at journalists for no reason and called on the UN secretary general to protect the lives of Palestinian journalists from Israel’s so-called crimes (Al-Wataniya channel, April 8, 2018). Salameh Maaruf, a Hamas operative who heads the government information bureau in Gaza, published information whose reliability is not clear. According to the data published, since the start of the Great March of Return activities, 40 journalists have been injured by the IDF: 13 from live ammunition, two from gas grenades and the remaining 25 from smoke inhalation (Anatolia News Agency, April 7, 2018).
Employing terrorist operatives as media personnel as was the case in Operation Protective Edge
  • Yasser Murtaja’s double role as media man and a Hamas operative is part of a well-known phenomenon that was exposed after Operation Protective Edge. As part of a project examining the names of the Palestinians killed in Operation Protective Edge, the ITIC examined a list of 17 people killed in the operation who the Palestinians claimed were journalists.
  • A thorough examination of the list revealed that eight of the 17 names were operatives who belonged to Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), or who were journalists who worked for the Hamas media network. The Palestinian Journalists Syndicate and the Gaza branch of the Palestinian Information Ministry, which were behind the list (and which are now participating in the anti-Israeli campaign following the death of Yasser Murtaja), attempted to conceal the military identity of the “journalists” and presented them as media personnel for all intents and purposes[1].
  • Moreover, the findings of the examination revealed that only about a third of the journalists/media personnel who appeared on the list were killed in Operation Protective Edge while covering events on the battlefield as part of their journalistic assignments. The rest were killed during the fighting in the Gaza Strip under circumstances unrelated to their journalistic work. The investigation also revealed that at least two members of the media on the list were not killed by the IDF and that their inclusion in the list of those killed (allegedly by the IDF) is misleading (the two people involved were an AP photographer and his interpreter, who were killed in a “work accident” during a ceasefire while covering the dismantling of duds by Palestinian policemen).

The conclusion of the examination conducted by the ITIC after Operation Protective Edge was that the list of “the 17 journalists who were killed” was a manipulative list designed to support the false claim that Israel had deliberately killed a large number of journalists, thereby committing a “war crime” (for which the Palestinians demanded that the “murderers” be brought to trial in international courts). All this was part of the tactics of deception and deceit carried out by Hamas and its affiliated bodies on the lists of Palestinians killed in Operation Protective Edge, as part of the political, propaganda and lawfare campaign against the State of Israel. The campaign currently being waged in the case of Yasser Murtaja is a current manifestation of these tactics.


Abdullah Murtaja, a Hamas media man and military operative who was killed in Operation Protective Edge (a member of the same clan as Yasser Murtaja)[2]

Abdullah Murtaja, member of the military information unit of the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, appearing in a video reading his will. After reading his will, Abdullah Murtaja notes that he belonged to the Shejaiya Battalion (the Gaza City Brigade) of the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades (YouTube, October 30, 2014). A document published by the Palestinian Ministry of Information did not mention Murtaja’s military identity and claimed that he was a journalist who worked at civilian media companies. Murtaja’s name was included on the list of 17 journalists that the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate claimed had been killed in Operation Protective Edge.
Abdullah Murtaja, member of the military information unit of the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, appearing in a video reading his will. After reading his will, Abdullah Murtaja notes that he belonged to the Shejaiya Battalion (the Gaza City Brigade) of the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades (YouTube, October 30, 2014). A document published by the Palestinian Ministry of Information did not mention Murtaja’s military identity and claimed that he was a journalist who worked at civilian media companies. Murtaja’s name was included on the list of 17 journalists that the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate claimed had been killed in Operation Protective Edge.

Abdullah Murtaja carrying out media activity as a correspondent for Hamas’s Al-Aqsa Channel (YouTube, December 12, 2013).   Abdullah Murtaja, who is described as “a fallen Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades media operative” (Al-Shahid al-Qassami al-I’lami), reading his will (YouTube, October 30, 2014).
Right: Abdullah Murtaja, who is described as “a fallen Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades media operative” (Al-Shahid al-Qassami al-I’lami), reading his will (YouTube, October 30, 2014). Left: Abdullah Murtaja carrying out media activity as a correspondent for Hamas’s Al-Aqsa Channel (YouTube, December 12, 2013).

On October 7, 2014, Yasser Murtaja (who was killed during the events of the Great March of Return) shared a post on Facebook showing a photo of Abdullah Fadel Murtaja in the uniform of the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades. The post reads: “Allah have mercy on you, commando operative, we miss your smile” (Yasser Murtaja’s Facebook page, October 7, 2014)
On October 7, 2014, Yasser Murtaja (who was killed during the events of the Great March of Return) shared a post on Facebook showing a photo of Abdullah Fadel Murtaja in the uniform of the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades. The post reads: “Allah have mercy on you, commando operative, we miss your smile” (Yasser Murtaja’s Facebook page, October 7, 2014)

Is Europe Committing Suicide?: Demographic and Immigration Challenges with Buntzie Ellis Churchil

Featuring Buntzie Ellis Churchill, former President of the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia and host of radio show World Views

Location: World Affairs Council of Philadelphia, One South Broad Street, Suite 2M, Philadelphia, PA 19107

Schedule: 5:30 p.m. Registration and reception; 6 p.m. – 7 p.m. Round table discussion; 7 p.m. Conclusion

Will State Department prevent publication of the GAO investigation of PA texts taught in UNRWA schools?

Dr. Anthony Harper, a journalist and constituent of Sen. James Risch (R-IDAHO), the chairman of the US Senate Near East Subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, asked the GAO (Government Accountability Office) as to the status of the GAO investigation of Palestinian Authority school books now used by UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, which are rife with indoctrination to war. (1)

Senator Risch had requested the GAO study after Dr. Harper introduced the Senator to the findings of the Center for Near East Policy Research, which purchases, translates and evaluates all school books that Palestinian Arab children learn in all UNRWA schools.

Chuck Young, managing director of public affairs of the GAO answered Dr. Harper’s request: “I checked with our team doing the work on Palestinian textbooks that you inquired about. The work is scheduled to be completed and go to the requester, Sen. Risch, the last week in April, though the date could always slide a bit. During the course of the work, the State Department indicated the report will need to be classified and cannot be released publicly. GAO must follow such classification decisions so we do not expect to issue a public report at this point. It would be available only to those with the necessary secret security clearance and a need to know, such as Members of Congress”

The question remains: Will any member of the US Congress, in the US Senate or the US House, now ask to read and publicize the findings of the GAO investigation of the PA school books now used in the UNRWA schools?

After all, these schoolbooks reach half a million students of UNRWA and are publicly disseminated.

Why should the content of PA school books paid for in part by the US government not be disclosed?

Why does the State Department not want to disclose what half a million students study in US funded UNRWA schools?

The US donates 30% of the $1.2 billion UNRWA budget. 54% of the UNRWA budget is allocated to UNRWA education.

In September 2016, Senator James Risch reviewed studies of PA textbooks used by UNRWA conducted by The Center for Near East Policy Research, which showed that UNRWA education had regressed into war indoctrination.

Following that, Senator Risch, in his capacity as chairman of the US Senate Near East Subcommittee, formally requested that the GAO to conduct a formal investigation of UNRWA education.

In September 2017, the Center for Near East Policy Research completed a new study of the 2016 -2017 school books, financed in part by the Simon Wiesenthal Center and published by the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center. (2)

In February 2018, the Center for Near East Policy Research completed an updated study of the newest PA school books provided to UNRWA, and determined that the 2018 PA school books provided for UNRWA continues to prepare a new generation for war. (3)

Will the US Congress and the American people be able to review the investigations of UNRWA school curriculum?

It depends if there are American citizens who will demand full transparency from the GAO.


(1) http://israelbehindthenews.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Scope-of-Our-Work-UNRWA-Reform-Intiative-2003-2018.pdf

(2) http://israelbehindthenews.com/full-study-school-books-now-used-unrwa-palestinian-authority/16438/

(3) http://israelbehindthenews.com/israel-jews-peace-new-pa-textbooks-used-unrwa-schools-today-final-study/16903/

Arabic Language text for Palestinian Authority/UNRWA schools, Grade 5, Part 2 (2017)

Arabic Language text for Palestinian Authority/UNRWA schools, Grade 5, Part 2 (2017)
51- introduced into all PA and UNRWA schools, December 2017.


[Dalal al-Mughrabi was killed in a terrorist attack she had led against a civilian bus on the Israel Coastal Highway in 1978 in which   38 Israeli civilians, including 13 children, were killed]

Following is the first page of a 4-page item dedicated to her:

Above her picture is the following text:

Our Palestinian history is full of many names of martyrs who presented their souls as a sacrifice forthe homeland. Among them is the martyr Dalal al-Mughrabi who painted with her struggle a picture of challenge and heroism that have made her memory eternal in our hearts and minds. The text in front of us provides a glance on the path of her struggle;


ספר לימוד חדש שהוכנס בדצמבר 2017 למערכת הלימודים של אונר”א והרשות הפלשתינאית

[דלאל אלמוגרבי נהרגה בפעולת טרור שהנהיגה נגד אוטובוס אזרחי על כביש החוף ב-1978, שבה נרצחו 38 אזרחים ישראלים, בהם 13 ילדים]

להלן  הטקסט בעמוד הראשון של קטע בן 4 עמודים המוקדש למורשת של דלאל אלמוגרבי

ההיסטוריה הפלסטינית שלנו מלאה ברבים משמות המרטירים שמסרו את נפשם ככפרה עבור המולדת וביניהם המרטירית דלאל אלמוגרבי שציירה במאבקה תמונה מתמונות האתגר והגבורה, דבר שהפך את זכרה לנצחי בלבותינו ומוחותינו. הטקסט שלפנינו מספר כמה אנקדוטות מדרך מאבקה.

The Center For Near East Policy Research comes to NYC to present: “INSIGHT BEHIND THE NEWS IN GAZA”

INSIGHT BEHIND THE NEWS IN GAZA

The Center For Near East Policy Research comes to New York to present films, documents, and thirty years of solid research.

Where​ and When​:

Sunday evening April 15 at 7PM
Manhattan East Synagogue
3rd Ave between 71st & 72nd st.

Monday April 16 at 1pm,
Or Olam East 55th St Synagogue
308 East 55th St​​.
Between 1st and 2nd Avenue,
(​Hosted by the Informal Caucus of Jewish NGO’s)

Monday Evening ​at 8PM
Lincoln Square Synagogue, ​ ​
180 Amsterdam Avenue

  • Journalist and Community Organization Social Worker, David Bedein, who has investigated UNRWA since 1987​.​
  • Dr. Arnon Groiss, ​who has ​translat​ed school textbooks used by UNRWA since 2000​.​
  • Lt. Col (ret). Jonathan ​D. ​Halevi, ​who has ​investigat​ed the Hamas takeover of UNRWA in Gaza since 1999​.

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The Gaza “Return March” Splits Hamas and Organizers

The events at Israel’s border with Gaza reflect a deep division between some of the NGO organizers of the Return March, led by Ahmed Abu Artima, and Hamas. Abu Artima, described by the British Guardian as a 34-year-old “activist and journalist,” opposed Hamas’ plan to hold a “Friday of Tires” on April 6, 2018. His followers on the March’s Facebook page suggested throwing flowers instead of burning tires.

Abu Artima, who works with European NGOs (non-government organizations), explained that the purpose of the gathering on the border was to prepare for the big march on Nakba Day in May and not to break through the fence at this point. Using force, he explained, would give legitimacy to the “occupation” to apply even greater force, while it would have no violent response to a mass march of refugees, including young people, the elderly, and babies. The main condition for the march would be that all of the marchers would refrain from any violence at all, including throwing stones, tires, Molotov cocktails, or the like.

Abu Artima distanced himself from the Hamas point of view when he referred to the shahids (martyrs) as “having died for nothing” and claimed that to achieve success in the national struggle, it was not necessary to sacrifice any martyrs at all. If anything, the opposite would be the case.

From reactions to Abu Artima’s statements, Hamas has accused him of betrayal, and Abu Artima’s supporters say that even though they primarily support his claims, it is forbidden to deny the importance of the shahids. Abu Artima responded that he would not be deterred by accusations of “traitor.”

While on the first Friday, March 30, 2018, Hamas remained silent until the very last moment and only got involved when the people had already gathered, Hamas took responsibility for last Friday’s events right from the beginning. The smell of smoke from the tires chased away Abu Artima’s men from the assembled gatherings, and it is possible that this was the intention of Hamas, along with its desire to cause trouble to Israel.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh at the funeral of a Palestinian photographer killed in Gaza

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh at the funeral of a Palestinian photographer killed in Gaza on April 6, 2018 (Arab press)

On the “Friday of Tires,” Hamas leaders joined the border protesters, but none of them spoke about the right of return or even mentioned the refugees – the objective of the whole event from the outset. Yahya Sinwar, for example, said that Gaza revealed to the world that the situation in the Gaza Strip could no longer continue. In other words, Hamas is seeking immediate aid and the opening of the crossings. The issue of “return” can wait.

Terror funding by the Palestinian Authority: Mahmoud Abbas recently approved the budget for 2018, about 7% of which is devoted to assisting prisoners, released terrorists, and families of shahids

In its 2018 budget, the PA allocated around NIS 1.28 billion (around USD 360 million), approximately 7% of the budget, to two institutions that assist terrorists imprisoned in Israel, released terrorists, and families of shahids. The institutions are the Commission of Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs and the Fund for Families of Martyrs and the Injured, both of which are subordinate to the PLO. Since 2014, the amount allocated to the Commission of Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs has been removed from the PA budget (in an attempt to disguise the fact that it is the PA that finances the payments to imprisoned and released terrorists). Now, the amount earmarked for the Commission of Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs has once again been openly included in the PA budget. In the ITIC’s assessment, this is a blatant act of defiance against the United States, which recently passed the Taylor Force Act (which stipulates cutting back part of the American aid to the PA until it stops paying stipends to prisoners, released terrorists, and families of shahids).

Payments in the 2018 budget dealing with prisoners, released terrorists, and families of shahids
  • On March 4, 2018, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas approved the PA’s 2018 budget, in the sum of around NIS 18 billion (around USD 5 billion). The budget specifies the allocation of funds to government ministries and various bodies. The budget includes two items dealing with the allocation of funds to two institutions subordinate to the PLO that assist terrorists and their families:
    • The Commission of Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs (Item 46): This institution, which pays the stipends of imprisoned and released terrorists, has been allocated the amount of around NIS 582 million[1] (around USD 165 million). This commission is headed by PA Minister Issa Karake. On May 29, 2014, this institution was made subordinate to the PLO, in order to mislead the donor countries[2]. In 2014-2017, the name of the Commission of Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs was removed from the list of institutions in the budget, but this year it was returned to the budget (for details about this institution and its head, see Appendix A).
    • The Fund for Families of Martyrs and the Injured (Item 47): This institution, which pays stipends to the families of shahids and injured terrorists, has been allocated the amount of around NIS 696 million[3] (around USD 197 million). This is an institution that has been subordinate to the PLO since 2005. It is headed by Intissar al-Wazir (Umm Jihad), one of the most senior women in Fatah, the widow of Fatah’s military commander Khalil al-Wazir (Abu Jihad). Unlike the Commission of Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs, this institution continued to appear in the PA budget without attempts at concealment (for details about this institution and Umm Jihad, see Appendix B).

Items 46 and 47 of the 2018 budget (marked by arrows) including the sums of money allocated to the two institutions dealing with prisoners, released terrorists, and the families of martyrs. Bottom left: (red markings added by the ITIC): Total amounts allocated to these institutions. Top left: Signature of Mahmoud Abbas. Left: Date of approval of the budget: March 4, 2018
Items 46 and 47 of the 2018 budget (marked by arrows) including the sums of money allocated to the two institutions dealing with prisoners, released terrorists, and the families of martyrs. Bottom left: (red markings added by the ITIC): Total amounts allocated to these institutions. Top left: Signature of Mahmoud Abbas. Left: Date of approval of the budget: March 4, 2018

2018 Budget

The PA’s 2018 budget: The total budget is NIS 18.089 billion. Item B (marked with an arrow) is an estimate of the amount of external aid and donations to the general budget (NIS 2.160 billion). Item C (marked with an arrow) is an estimate of the external grants for development purposes (NIS 630 million). In total, the PA expects to receive NIS 2.790  billion (around USD 790 million) in aid from donor countries in 2018. Hence the allocations for assistance to prisoners, released terrorists, and shahids represent nearly 46% of the foreign aid funds that the PA expects to receive.
The PA’s 2018 budget: The total budget is NIS 18.089 billion. Item B (marked with an arrow) is an estimate of the amount of external aid and donations to the general budget
(NIS 2.160 billion). Item C (marked with an arrow) is an estimate of the external grants for development purposes (NIS 630 million). In total, the PA expects to receive NIS 2.790  billion (around USD 790 million) in aid from donor countries in 2018. Hence the allocations for assistance to prisoners, released terrorists, and shahids represent nearly 46% of the foreign aid funds that the PA expects to receive.

Allocations of funds for supporting prisoners, released terrorists, and families of shahids and the wounded

Allocations of funds for supporting prisoners, released terrorists, and families of shahids and the wounded

The total amount in the PA budget allocated in 2018 to support prisoners, released terrorists, and families of shahids is NIS 1.278 billion[4](around USD 360 million)This amount represents about 7% of the total budget, similar to the percentage in the previous six years.For example, in 2013 (the year before the budget of the Commission of Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs disappeared from the PA’s budget), the budget allocated to support prisoners, released terrorists and families of martyrs was NIS 1.027 billion. This amount represented around 7.18% of the total budget (which was NIS 14.3 billion in 2013). Hence the rate of around 7% of the budget is constant and has been maintained over the past six years.[5]

Appendix A
The Commission of Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs

The Commission of Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs is an institution headed by PA Minister Issa KarakeOn May 29, 2014, this institution was made subordinate to the PLO, in order to mislead the donor countries (mainly the United States) and to create the impression that their aid funds are not being used for funding terrorism. In practice, however, the funds for the Commission of Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs belong to the PA budget and are transferred to the PLO as part of the PA’s commitment to support terrorists taking part in the struggle against Israel.

  • The Commission of Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs was established in 1998 following a presidential decree issued by Yasser Arafat, for the establishment of a ministry to handle the issue of Palestinian prisoners (i.e., terrorists) arrested by Israel. On May 29, 2014, Mahmoud Abbas issued a presidential decree changing the name of the ministry to the Commission of Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs and making it subordinate to the PLO. Following the publication of this order, Minister Issa Karake (formerly minister of prisoner affairs in the PA) was appointed to serve as Chairman of the Commission, with the status of Minister. This institution supports terrorists in prison in Israel, released prisoners, and their families, and fights for their release from Israeli prisons (Commission of Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs website in Arabic, June 26, 2017).
  • Issa Karake is a veteran Fatah operative from Bethlehem who heads the Commission of Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs. He was previously imprisoned in Israel for terrorist activities. Between 1993 and 2005 he served as Chairman of the Palestinian Prisoners Club. Since 2007 he has served as Minister of Prisoners in the PA (although in 2014 his ministry was made subordinate to the PLO). He is also a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council. He displays a radical and uncompromising attitude against Israel. He frequently criticizes and attacks Israel in the Palestinian and international media because of its conduct towards Palestinian prisoners.
Appendix B
The Fund for Families of Martyrs and the Injured[6]

The Fund for Families of Martyrs and the Injured is a PLO institution that takes care of the families of shahids (i.e., terrorists who were killed) and the wounded. This institution receives its budget from the PA. It is headed by Intissar al-Wazir (Umm Jihad), one of the most senior women in Fatah.

  • The Fund for Families of Martyrs and the Injured was established in 1965. It began as a welfare committee in Fatah, and was headed since its establishment by Intissar al-Wazir. In the beginning, the fund took care of 11 families of shahids. In 1968, with the increase in the number of families of Palestinian shahids and injured, it was decided to turn the committee into an institution and open its first office in Amman. In 1971, it was decided to make the institution subordinate to the PLO. With the establishment of the PA in 1993 and the return of its senior leaders from abroad, it was decided to make the institution subordinate to the PA Ministry of Welfare as a general directorate. In 2005, Mahmoud Abbas issued a presidential decree ordering the separation of the institution from the Palestinian Ministry of Welfare and making it subordinate to the PLO, but its budget continues to come from the PA.

Facebook profile photo of the Fund for Families of Martyrs and the Injured, indicating that it is subordinate to the PLO (Facebook page of the Fund for Families of Martyrs and the Injured, August 28, 2014)
Facebook profile photo of the Fund for Families of Martyrs and the
Injured, indicating that it is subordinate to the PLO (Facebook page of the
Fund for Families of Martyrs and the Injured, August 28, 2014)

  • The fund cares for the families of shahids and injured Palestinians. It pays them monthly pensions and provides them with welfare, health, education and rehabilitation services. The fund cares for tens of thousands of families (in 2012 it cared for more than 30,000 families of shahids and injured Palestinians). It operates two central offices, one in Ramallah and the other in Gaza, along with 15 sub-branches throughout Judea and Samaria (Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, October 11, 2015).
  • Over the years, the PA has passed laws guaranteeing the rights of the families of shahids and the injured (i.e., terrorist). They are also given priority over others with regard to employment in the PA. According to the updated Basic Law of the PA for 2005, Article 22/2: “Maintaining the welfare of families of martyrs, [so-called] prisoners of war,[7] the injured and the disabled is a duty that shall be regulated by law. The National Authority shall guarantee these persons education, health and social insurance” (aman-palestine.org, December 2010).
  • The fund is headed by Intissar al-Wazir (Umm Jihad), one of the most senior Fatah officials, who lives in Ramallah. She was born in Gaza in 1941. Her husband was Khalil al-Wazir (Abu Jihad), the senior Fatah military commander who was killed in Tunis. In addition to her position as chairwoman of the Fund for Families of Martyrs and the Injured, she is also a member of Fatah’s Advisory Council and serves as chairwoman of the General Union of Palestinian Women (which is subordinate to the PLO). She formerly served as a member of Fatah’s Central Committee and as welfare minister in the Palestinian Authority.
Transfer of the pensions to families of shahids in the Gaza Strip
  • On October 20, 2016 in Ramallah, Intissar al-Wazir signed an agreement with Quds Bank for transferring pensions to the families of shahids in the Gaza Strip. The agreement was signed with Quds Bank CEO Akram Jrab (Al-Watan, October 20, 2016).

[1] The exact amount is NIS 581,654. 
[2] Previously, this body was the Ministry of Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs in the PA government. 

[3] The exact amount is NIS 696,301. 

[4] The exact amount is NIS 1,277,955,000. 

[5] According to the information in the ITIC’s possession and data appearing in Brig. Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser’s study: “Incentivizing Terrorism: Palestinian Authority Allocations to Terrorists and their Families,” Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. 

[6] In Arabic, Mu’assassat Ri’ayat Ussar al-Shuhadaa wal-Jarha

[7] The Palestinians refer to the terrorists imprisoned in Israel, some of them for murdering women and children, as “prisoners of war.” 

The Test of the March of Return: Violence in the West Bank

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The real test of Hamas’s March of Return campaign in Gaza lies in its ability to mobilize mass violence in Jerusalem, Ramallah, Bethlehem, Hebron, and other parts of the West Bank. So far, most of the Arab inhabitants of those areas are content to watch the events on their screens rather than in the streets.

Hamas’s March of Return campaign in Gaza will count as a success for its organizers only insofar as it mobilizes mass violence in Jerusalem, Ramallah, Bethlehem, Hebron, and elsewhere in the West Bank. This is why Israeli Arab members of Knesset Ahmad Tibi and Hanan Zouabi, among many others, urge the inhabitants of those areas to violently protest Israeli forces in solidarity with their brethren in Gaza. They encourage them to risk their own lives while they continue to draw substantial salaries from the Israeli treasury and enjoy parliamentary immunity. Sending others to the trenches is, after all, a long-established historical tradition.

Anything less than sustained mass violence in these areas will amount to one more defeat for Hamas in its string of defeats. They include its inability to solve Gaza’s social and economic problems; its inability to cope with the loss of potential strategic partner Muhammad Mursi, the Muslim Brotherhood member and ousted Egyptian president, and its inability to handle his replacement by incumbent President al-Sisi, who shares an enmity to the organization fully supported by financial powerhouses such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

The stakes of failure are high. Both Hamas and its nemesis, the Palestinian Authority under Mahmoud Abbas, which is free-riding on the campaign to condemn Israel, recognize that ever since the takeover of Gaza by Hamas nearly 12 years ago, the Palestinians in the territories no longer cooperate against Israel.

Up to that point, inhabitants of the West Bank joined forces with the citizens of Gaza in a four-year intifada that began in December 1987. The suicide bombings of the 1990s emanated from both areas.

In the wave of violence that erupted in September 2000, erroneously dubbed the second intifada, the Palestinian factions in the West Bank and the PA security forces engaged in mass terrorism, including deadly suicide attacks. In Gaza, the violence developed into a guerrilla campaign against Israeli forces as well as terrorist attacks against Israeli settlers.

The common denominator was the timing of the violence. Both areas burned simultaneously.

This is no longer the case.

Since 2007, when Hamas and Islamic Jihad fought against Israel, the inhabitants and political forces in Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Hebron, and Nablus have been relatively quiet bystanders. So too have been other organizations that one might have expected to join the fray, such as Hezbollah.

During the three major Israel-Hamas confrontations in 2008-9, 2012, and 2014 (the longest military engagement in Israeli history barring the War of Independence in 1948), the West Bank was quiet, for the most part.

The opposite also applied. In the major wave of knifings and other forms of terrorism that took place in Jerusalem, Hebron, and major Israeli cities in winter 2015-16, almost all the attacks were committed by inhabitants of Jerusalem and the West Bank. Gaza, under Hamas’ iron hand, was noticeably quiet.

For Israel, of course, this is a major strategic success for which it is only partially responsible. The major reason for this bifurcated mode of action stems from the division of the Palestinian political community into two bitter rivals.

Alas for both Hamas and the PA, the present campaign has done little to change the situation. As Gaza partially flares up (the numbers for Hamas are disappointing in themselves), the Arab inhabitants of Jerusalem and the West Bank are largely staying out of it.

The best proof is readership of the al-Quds internet site, by far the most influential and widely followed Palestinian media site. Not only have reports on confrontations in the West Bank been scarce, but readers are not showing much interest. The most widely read confrontation in the past two weeks merited fewer than 900 views. In contrast, a rumor that Egyptian singer and actress Shireen Abd al-Wahhab might be marrying her suitor registered over 3,000 views.

This suggests that most of the Arab inhabitants of Jerusalem and the West Bank are content to watch the events on their screens rather than go out into the streets to take on Israeli troops.