JERUSALEM — There are growing fears among Israelis and some Palestinians that, according to a controversial law aimed at rewarding Palestinians who murder Israelis in ‘nationalistic attacks,’ the Palestinian Authority may be compelled to shell out nearly $3 million a month in compensation to the families of hundreds of Hamas terrorists who carried out the deadly massacre against Israel on October 7th.
According to Israeli military estimates, nearly 3,000 Hamas terrorists infiltrated into Israeli territory from the Gaza Strip during the attack, murdering, raping and even beheading more than 1,300 civilians and Israeli soldiers.
As the IDF fought to regain control over the dozens of towns and communities that sit close to the border with the Palestinian enclave, it reportedly killed more than 1,500 of the terrorists and captured an additional 100 or more.
Palestinian Media Watch, an Israeli organization that draws attention to Palestinian extremism, including among its leaders, surmised in an article published on its website Tuesday that the Palestinian Authority, the body that governs Palestinians in the West Bank, may now be obliged to pay salaries to the families of the dead terrorists and fund those who are now being held by Israel.
‘The Palestinian Authority pays salaries to every single terrorist and to anyone who is arrested fighting Israel,’ Itamar Marcus, director of Palestinian Media Watch, told Fox News Digital.
Marcus claimed the controversial payments, which are often referred to by critics as ‘pay for slay,’ have been steadfastly defended by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and members of his government. And he said they are applicable to any Palestinian who ‘dies as a martyr from any faction, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad.’
‘The Palestinian Authority has been adamant about paying these salaries,’ said Marcus, adding that the payments continue to be made even though the Palestinian Authority has been forced to slash salaries across the board for all government workers due to an economic crisis in the Palestinian territories, sparking protests.
President Abbas had been scheduled to meet with President Biden in Jordan Wednesday but canceled after a deadly blast at a hospital in Gaza Tuesday night reportedly killed and injured hundreds. He has yet to outright condemn Hamas’ atrocities Oct. 7.
Palestinian news agency WAFA reported last week that Abbas had stressed that the Palestine Liberation Organization was the sole representative of the Palestinian people. However, he stopped short of condemning Hamas’ brutal actions. Hamas is not represented in the PLO due to an ongoing rivalry with Fatah, Abbas’ political faction.
Lt. Col. (res) Shaul Bartal, a senior researcher at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar Ilan University near Tel Aviv, said it was unlikely the Palestinian Authority would find the funds to extend this policy to the families of such a large number of terrorists.
‘Right now, the PA does not have the money to pay them even if they wanted to, and Abbas has already said that what Hamas did does not represent the Palestinian people,’ he said. He added that due to the dire financial situation in the West Bank, the PA has already ceased paying salaries to employees in the Gaza Strip.
However, Marcus pointed out that, following the 2014 war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, in which a large number of Palestinian terrorists were killed, residents in Gaza demanded the Palestinian Authority extend the compensation to them.
Abbas and the Palestinian Authority have received sharp criticism for these payments, which include a bonus in the first month and then a monthly stipend that increases with time.
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 also 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 the 28-year-old was savagely knifed to death March 8, 2016, during a tour of Israel by a Palestinian terrorist. President Trump signed the Taylor Force Act into law in October 2018.
Even with the new law, Palestinian Media Watch said the Palestinian Authority law continues to award the family of every terrorist who is killed attacking Israel an immediate grant of $1,511 and a $353-per-month allowance for life.
Bassem Eid, a Palestinian human rights activist and political analyst, said this ‘pay-to-slay policy has put a huge financial burden on the Palestinian Authority, and yet they continue to demand more financial aid from the Europeans and the Americans.
‘In my opinion, the Palestinian Authority is using this policy to encourage more terror against Jews and Israelis,’ Eid told Fox News Digital. ‘The international community knows this money is going to terror via the Palestinian Authority, but they continue to accept it.’
However, Eid said he did not believe Abbas would ‘pay any money to Hamas terrorists’ after this month’s attack. More likely, he said, Hamas would reward its own fighters directly.
Attempts by Fox News Digital for clarification on the issue from the Palestinian Authority were not answered.