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How many Major-Generals do the PA security forces need?

Maurice Hirsch, Adv.  |

While Palestinian Media Watch has already shown that the self-imposed financial crisis the PA is suffering from at the moment can easily be resolved if they would accept the hundreds of millions of shekels a month Israel has sent them, in an interview with the New York Times, PA Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh, said that the PA is "in a collapsing situation". He then added, if that happens, the authority would have to furlough its police officers who police the PA controlled areas.

Whereas Shtayyeh's statements were probably rightly interpreted as a threat to Israel regarding the continued security coordination, in reality, this could actually be an opportunity for the international community to force the PA to stop using its security apparatus as a means to provide salaries to released terrorist prisoners. 

A 2017 "Integrity and Combating Corruption" report released by Aman - an NGO which enjoys the cooperataion of the PA and is funded by the governments of Norway, Luxembourg and the Netherlands and whose mission is to promote "transparency and accountability and values of integrity in Palestinian institutions" - provided important information. The report showed that in the years 2013 - 2017, the number of high ranking officers in the PA security forces grew at a completely disproportionate rate to the number of non-officers. 

According to the report, between 2013 and 2017 the number of officers in the different PA security apparatuses grew from 23,163 to 30,313. Of these additional officers, 5,982 hold the rank of Lieutenant Colonel (+2,167) to Major General (+97). 

In the same period, the number of non-officers shrunk from 41,328 in 2013 to 37,409 in 2017 (a net decrease of 3,919 personnel).    

It is interesting to note, that an integral part of the PA’s "Pay for Slay" policy provides that members of the PA security apparatuses who were imprisoned by Israel for participating in acts of terrorism continue to rise in rank, as if their prison terms were part of their military  service. 

According to the 2013 PA "Regulation for Ensuring Jobs for Released Prisoners" terrorist prisoners, who were members of the PA security apparatus prior to his arrest, receive a new rank based on the time they spent in prison. Those who spent 8 - 10 years in prison receive the rank of Major.  Those who spent 10 - 15 years in prison receive the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. Those who spent 15 - 20 years in prison receive the rank of Colonel. Those who spent 20 - 25 years in prison receive the rank of Brigadier General. Those who spent 25 - 30 years in prison receive the rank of Major General. 

During the PA terror campaign 2000 - 2005, many of the terrorists arrested by Israel were members of the PA security apparatuses. The participation of the PA security forces in the terror campaign has been confirmed by different PA personalities including Fatah Central Committee member Tawfiq Tirawi,  who at the relevant time served as the head of the PA General Intelligence Services and Adnan Al-Damiri, official spokesman of the PA Security Forces.

When one combines the PA admission with the 2013 regulations, it is not unreasonable to assume that much of the rise in the number of officers in the PA security apparatus as exposed by Aman, is due to the release of terrorists who were, prior to their arrest, members of the PA security apparatus.

In these circumstances, if the PA financial crisis results in these released terrorists stopping to receive the salaries granted to them by virtue of the rank they were given, just for being imprisoned terrorists, then this would be a most positive outcome.

Notwithstanding this potentially positive outcome, while Shtayyeh’s words were interpreted as a veiled threat regarding the continuance of the Israeli-PA security coordination, it should also be noted that the security coordination serves the PA to rid itself of its Hamas rivals, no less than it serves Israel to thwart terror attacks.   

As previously noted by PMW, the current PA financial crisis is a result of their refusal to accept the hundreds of millions of shekels each month in tax money Israel collects and transfers to them. While the 2018 average monthly tax income was 670 million shekel, the PA is refusing to accept the money due to a 42 million shekel monthly deduction Israel is making, which will cumulatively amount to 502 million shekels over a 12 month period. 502 million shekels is the amount the PA openly admitted to paying, as part of its "Pay for Slay" policy, in 2018 to terrorist prisoners and released terrorist prisoners.

Sadly, in the eyes of the Mahmoud Abbas, his Fatah party and the PA (including its Prime Minister), the security forces are not there to fight terrorism and crime. Rather they operate in order to safeguard their dictatorial rule against their Hamas rivals and to provide a convenient front through which the PA can implement its "Pay for Slay" policy of paying inflated salaries to released terrorist prisoners. 

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