Violence, Chaos in PA as Banks Close Terrorist-Linked Accounts
A series of violent protests and incidents against banks were recorded in the Palestinian Authority (PA) in recent days following the closure of the accounts of prisoners and former terrorists who receive monthly stipends from the PA.
More than 12,000 security prisoners and released prisoners receive monthly salaries from the PA through the banks. The banks have begun to close the accounts after legislation that took effect on Saturday applies substantial parts of Israel’s Anti-Terror Law to Judea and Samaria.
The new legislation provides that any person who conducts any transaction with assets, including money, in order to facilitate, further, fund, or reward a person for carrying out terror-related offenses, is himself committing an offense punishable with 10 years in prison and a substantial fine.
The PA has a policy of paying monthly stipends to the families of convicted terrorists imprisoned in Israel, released terrorists and terrorists killed while committing their attacks. The payments have been criticized as a financial incentive to commit terrorist attacks against Israelis.
In Jenin, gunmen shot at the Cairo Amman Bank branch three times and tried to set fire to it. Another arson attempt occurred in Jericho while warning signs were posted against the bank’s branch in Ramallah.
In Bethlehem, a Molotov cocktail was thrown at one of the branches.
The Gaza Resistance Committees convened on Sunday to protest against the banks’ decision to close prisoners’ accounts and another demonstration by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) is slated for Monday at the anonymous soldier’s square in the Gaza Strip.
The Fatah organization in Hebron has called on the PA to close the branches of banks that comply with the Israeli directives. Fatah warned banks against continuing the “immoral proceedings against prisoners.”
A proclamation distributed in Jenin states that the “banks complying with the Zionist pursuit of prisoners’ families are acting in a treasonous fashion and anyone who stands by silently is taking part in it.”
The prisoners’ leadership also issued a proclamation calling for legal action against the banks as well as a boycott.
The Fatah Revolutionary Council issued a proclamation in which it attacks Israel’s steps against the prisoners and sees them as “declaring war on the most sacred issues for the Palestinian people” and “an introduction to the Israeli annexation policy.” According to them, “even if one single dollar is left in the PA budget, it will be paid to prisoners.”
The Fatah leadership appealed to the international community while claiming that Israel was exploiting the Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis to hurt the prisoners and demanding that they recognize the imprisoned terrorists as prisoners of war.
In the meantime, TPS has learned that although the PA received early information from Israel regarding the measures it planned to take against the banks, the PA did not act.
Furthermore, the Palestinian Banks Association recently proposed to the PA to establish a bypass mechanism for the transferring of prisoners’ salaries not through the banks.
Following the protests against the banks, PA Prime Minister Mohammad A-Shtayye wrote on his Facebook page that it was agreed that the banks would freeze the closure of the prisoners’ accounts and that they could withdraw their salaries as usual.
The Palestinian Media Watch (PMW), which was involved in the pressure to bring to the closure of the accounts, said that this is probably because the PA has already paid the terrorist prisoners their salaries for April and will not be paying salaries for May until the beginning of June.
BY THE ISRAEL INSIDER (TPS)