Released prisoners strike for salaries


Ramallah: Three released Palestinian prisoners who had been imprisoned in Israeli jails for less than five years each are protesting their inability to find work and thus make a living through a hunger strike and a tent protest at the entrance of the Tulkarem branch of the Ministry of Detainees’ Affairs. The men are demanding monthly salaries along with medical insurance. According to the Palestinian prisoners’ law, a prisoner released from the Israeli jails before serving five years imprisonment would not be eligible for a monthly salary from the Palestinian National Authority (PNA). Under the law, only those who serve more than five years imprisonments receive monthly salaries for their lifetimes.

Once a Palestinian is arrested by the Israeli military forces, the PNA starts cashing him 1,400 Shekels on monthly basis; the prisoner’s salary increases to 2,000 Shekels once the prisoner reaches two years behind Israeli bars, 4,000 Shekels after five years in prison, and jumps to 6,000 Shekels when the prisoner reaches ten years in prison.

The scheme for those who serve more than five years in Israeli prisons enhances when they are released, but those who are released before five years imprisonment receive only a financial aid of six months salary as lump sum. No further assistance is given.

About 12,000 released Palestinian prisoners have gone against this law which they view as unfair for those who stay less than five years in Israeli prisons. Demands of released prisoners with less than five years imprisonment have reached the highest Palestinian leaders who proposed a new law which was approved by the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

The law now needs to be granted the necessary official budget and official regulations and procedures for implementation.

According to the new proposed law, the released prisoners who serve less than five years in Israeli jails will be eligible for monthly salaries for just half the time the prisoner served in the Israeli jails. The situation will be unchanged for those who serve more than five years in Israeli jails.

Halimah Ermailat, who heads the Palestinian Prisoner Club in Tulkarem, said that every Palestinian prisoner has the right to get a job which secures him with a source of monthly income along with medical insurance. “Nobody can deny released prisoners the right to get jobs to live outside Israeli jail with pride and dignity,” she told Gulf News. “The PNA’s current financial conditions are hard in that the PNA cannot allocate the necessary budget to provide all the released prisoners with jobs or monthly salaries,” she said. “Had the PNA found the financial resources, all prisoners will get what they believe to be their rights,” she stressed. She called on the released prisoners to end their strike and hunger strike and give more time to the PNA to address their problem. Other released prisoners, however, joined the three fasting released prisoners so that the group became seven. The number is expected to increase within the coming few days.

Esmat Abu Sa’a, who heads the Tulkarem branch of the Ministry of Detainees’ Affairs, said that efforts are underway to solve the problem of those prisoners at its roots. “We have spoken to the city’s private sector to accommodate the prisoners and give them salaries to make a living,” she told Gulf News. She stressed that the problem of those who serve less than five years in Israeli jails is not in Tulkarem but covers the entire West Bank, and so the issue should be addressed on larger level.