Paying terrorists a salary

I caught my breath when I read this piece in The Times of Israel — How American taxpayers are funding Palestinian terrorism, by Edwin Black, November 10, 2013.  The takeaway message is that the Palestinian Authority, the author asserts, is using donations from the US and other countries to pay monthly salaries to Palestinians imprisoned in Israeli jails for “acts of terrorism”.

Under a sliding scale, carefully articulated in the Law of the Prisoner, the more heinous the act of terrorism and the longer the prison sentence, the higher is the salary. Detention for up to three years fetches a salary of almost $400 per month. Prisoners incarcerated between three and five years will be paid about $560 monthly — a compensation level already higher than that for many ordinary West Bank jobs. Sentences of 10 to 15 years fetch salaries of about $1,690 per month. More severe acts of terrorism, those punished with sentences between 15 and 20 years, earn almost $2,000 per month. These are the best salaries in the Palestinian territories. The Arabic word ratib, meaning “salary,” is the official term for this compensation. The law ensures the greatest financial reward for the most egregious acts of terrorism.

My first response was disgust and outrage! Killing, maiming, and butchery should never be rewarded regardless of who the perpetrator and victim might be.  In a very impoverished community, won’t poor young men and women be enticed to commit acts of violence just to provide a monthly salary for their families?  I think it’s very likely.

I’ve heard the average salary for attorneys in Gaza is about $500 USD per month.  If this journalist is correct, it appears to be much more lucrative to commit “an act of terrorism” and draw a salary of $2000 USD per month. Think of it —- the prisoner could be making 4 times what his lawyer brings home.

Then I paused and thought about this horrific transaction.


Palestinians consider these people “freedom fighters” or “resistance fighters”.  If these fighters are killed, they are “martyrs”. Large posters are plastered all over the Gaza Strip with pictures of martyrs who are highly respected by everyone. One young Palestinian in his late 20s – early 30s has memorized the name, date and circumstances of martyrdom for each and every martyr. This is quite a feat since there have been thousands.

2012-09-30 20.52.56

Freedom fighters = soldiers. Resistance fighters = military (albeit with less hardware and munitions at their disposal).

Stripping away the uniforms, weapons, and the power structure from the soldiers in the Israeli army, what remains? Young men and women fighting for a cause they believe in, willing to kill, maim and butcher the enemy as directed by their superiors.  And each is drawing a salary. I doubt that American taxpayers are directly contributing to the Israeli soldiers’ salaries, but there’s no doubt that we’re subsidizing Israel’s military to the tune of $3 Billion/year, in equipment and armaments. My U.S. Senator, Martin Heinrich, is very proud of his support for these expenditures of US tax dollars. He’s bought the AIPAC mantra hook, line and sinker — “Israel has a right to defend herself.”

If we feel disgust at paying salaries to Palestinian freedom fighters, than we must be intellectually honest and feel disgust at subsidizing Israel’s military. Americans are fueling this savagery (perhaps on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian divide) and only our military industrial complex is the winner because much of the $3 Billion/year actually stays in the United States in the form of contracts for purchase of weapons.

I consider our transactions on both sides of this conflict disgusting. Americans should be helping to create a new world, not paying for the killing occurring on both sides of the Green Line.

Billboard Albuquerque



Filed under Israel Defense Forces, People, US Policy

8 responses to “Paying terrorists a salary

  1. About the US military aid to Israel – three quarters of it must be spent in th US, so the “aid” is effectively a subsidy of the US industry. It also gives the US the figue leaf to cover its massive sales of weapons to Arab states, in the tens of billions of dollars. By the way, several Israeli political parties, including National Union, oppose the aid and propose a gradual reduction in dependency on it.

    Israel’s military is obliged to the laws of warfare and investigates all complaints about inappropriate conduct of its soldiers. In recent years, the IDF has conducted thousands of investigations, leading to hunderds of convictions (beyound innumerable cases of disciplinary punishment). The soldiers wear uniform so that they are identifiable as combatants, not hiding behind a mask of civilians. How many cases of violence agains Jews has the PA investigated, let alone prosecuted or convicted?

    Who are these “fredom fighters”? 104 of “freedom fighters” are currently being released by Israel after the PA demand of their release as precondition for peace talks. Let’s name a couple, just to give an example of their heroic deeds:

    Ramahi Salah Abdallah Faraj, who murdered 84-year-old Avraham Kinstler in July of 1992 with an axe.

    Salah Ibrahim Ahmad Mughdad, the murderer of Holocaust-survivor Israel Tenenbaum who was found dead on June 14, 1993, at the hotel in Netanya where he had been working as a night watchman. Mughdad had murdered him on the job.

    These are the people who are “highly respected by everyone” in Gaza.

    • I agree that the majority of US military aid to Israel stays inside the US with military contractors. The only winner is the military industrial complex.

      I disagree that the US provides tends of Billions to Arab nations. Israel is #1 recipient @ $3 billion per year. Egypt was #2 but Obama has recently halted payment of military aid to Egypt.

      You mention some of the victims who were killed at the hands of Palestinians. I share your grief and I believe these deaths are horrific.

      At the same time, I could provide you names, ages and circumstances of Palestinian deaths at the hands of the Israelis. But I won’t because I don’t want to get into a tit-for-tat with you about which side suffers the most. BOTH sides suffer atrocities at the hands of the other. It will not end until the occupation ends.

      If you want names, dates, circumstances of Palestinian victims, check the Palestinian Center for Human Rights. PCHR publishes a weekly account of those details.

      Freedom fighters are highly respected by Palestinians just as Israeli soldiers are respected by Israeli citizens.

      • I didn’t refer to the military aid by the US, I referred to the weapon sales, that are “justified” by the aid to Israel.

        Israeli soldiers (and civilians) who are convicted of crimes, including intentional murder, are jailed and are generally despised by their society and families. Arabs who axed elderly and decapitated babies in their sleep are called “heroes” by their families –

        Its not about who suffers most, its about who’s doing their best to cause the suffering and who’s trying their best to prevent it. Calling murderers what they are is step number 1 in ending the conflict.

      • “Calling murderers what they are is step #1 to ending the conflict.”

        Might not be step #1 but I agree it is very important.

        Do you think it is a crime (murder) to kill nearly every member of a family (21 people) such as happened to the Samouni family on January 5, 2009 in Gaza?

      • The military advocate general said the military operation took place mostly in a heavily populated urban environment, and rockets had been fired from the vicinity before the IDF launched an air strike.

        So no, not murder- it was a war zone, and however tragic, it was an unfortunate accident in a combat environment, not intentional targeting of civilians. Compare it to the civilian casualties of the NATO bombings of Serbia –

        “There is always a cost to defeat an evil. It never comes free, unfortunately. But the cost of failure to defeat a great evil is far higher.”

      • The testimony presented to the Goldstone Commission is very different from what you share here. Since Israel would not cooperate with the Goldstone Commission, I tend to discredit what the military advocate general says.

        This discourse is leading us down a path that won’t bring any clarity to our disagreement.

        I view the Israeli military and the Palestinian freedom fighters as two sides of the same coin. One might have more armaments and PR media at its disposal than the other, but both have young men and women who are willing to kill and be killed for a cause they believe in.

      • Its just that Israeli soldiers are willing to kill armed terrorists and regret hurting civilians the terrorists are hiding behind, and “freedom fighters” of Hamas and other similar groups are willing to enter a house at night and chop off a baby’s head and take pride in it. If you view that as two sides of the same coin, you go ahead and do it.

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