3,728,600 reasons the escaped terrorists chose to return to prison quietly
On September 11, 2021, Israeli security forces managed to capture four of the six terrorists who escaped from the Gilboa prison just days earlier. The terrorists did not resist their re-arrest.
While their escape was clearly the result of a substantial failure on the part of the Israeli Prison Service, their relatively quiet re-capture could well be the function of the comfortable life in Israeli prison while accumulating massive salaries, from the Palestinian Authority.
According to calculations made by Palestinian Media Watch, based on the official PA terrorist salary pay scale, prior to the escape of the terrorists, the PA had already paid them a minimum cumulative sum of 3,728,600 shekels ($1,165,125).
Leading the payments was Mahmoud Ardah, who was arrested in 1996 and sentenced to life and another 15 years. To reward Ardah for his terrorist activities, to date the PA has paid him a total of 1,156,000 shekels ($361,230). For the last 60 months, Ardah had been receiving 8,000 shekels ($2,471). On Sept. 21, he will complete 25 years in prison. Accordingly, in his September “pay check”, he will receive a salary rise to 10,000 shekels/month ($3,089)
The second highest paid of the escaped terrorists is Muhammad Ardah, an Islamic Jihad member who was put on trial and convicted for his part in initiating and executing a suicide bombing on Nov. 29, 2001, in which 3 people were murdered and many others were wounded. To reward Ardah for blowing up a bus, the PA has already paid him a total of 903,200 shekels ($282,235). Arrested in May 2002, this Ardah receives 7,000 shekels/month ($2,162). He will receive a salary increase in May 2022.
The two Ardah’s are followed by Yaqub Qaderi, who carried out a shooting attack in 2002 in which Yosef Ajami was murdered and a foreign worker was wounded. Arrested in 2003, to reward Qaderi for murdering an Israeli, the PA has paid him a total of 831,800 shekels ($259,923). His current monthly salary is 7,000 shekels ($2,162).
The next highest paid of the terrorist escapees is Ayham Kamamji who murdered young Eliyahu Ashri in 2006, and planned to blow up a bus filled with passengers using an exploding car carrying a massive explosive approximately 100 kilograms in weight. To reward Kamamji for murdering an Israeli teenager and planning another massive attack, the PA has paid him a total of 687,000 shekels ($214,676). Two months ago, having completed 15 years in prison, Kamamji received a pay rise from 6,000 ($1,853) to 7,000 shekels/month ($2,162). Kamanji has not yet been re-captured.
The next highest paid terrorist escapee is Zakariya Zubeidi, a terrorist who commanded the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, Fatah’s terror wing, in Jenin. As a reward for his terror activities, since his arrest in February 2019 the PA has paid Zubeidi a total of 124,000 shekels ($38,747).
The 2004 PA Law of Prisoners and Released Prisoners and the regulations promulgated by the PA codify the PA’s payments to the terrorist prisoners. The law and regulations provide that a terrorist prisoner’s salary will rise in accordance with the time he spends in prison. Before his current arrest, Zubeidi had spent a cumulative period of five years in prison for other terrorist activities. When he was arrested in February 2019, Zubeidi did not receive the salary of a “starting terrorist prisoner” but rather the salary of a five year prison veteran. Accordingly, every month the PA pays Zubeidi an additional 4,000 shekels ($1,236).
In the indictment that was submitted against him, Zubeidi is accused of committing a long list of terror crimes including murder. Many of the attacks for which he was indicted happened during the PA initiated terror war from September 2000 through 2005. Zubeidi was taken off Israel's wanted list in 2007 on condition that he refrain from terror as part of a deal with the PA. He was subsequently given a position in the PA Ministry of Prisoners' Affairs and made a Fatah Revolutionary Council member.
Zubeidi was arrested by Israel on Feb. 27, 2019, for breaching the 2007 deal by committing several shooting attacks with an accomplice together with his lawyer Tareq Barghut, who held Israeli residency and who worked in the PA Ministry of Prisoners' Affairs. Zubeidi used a car issued to him by the PA in the attacks.
The last of the terrorist escapees is Munadel Infeiat. Arrested in February 2020, PMW has not managed to establish what crimes Infeiat committed. Israeli and Palestinian media reports suggest that this is not the first time Infeiat has been arrested for his involvement in terrorism, but none of the sources gave information specific enough to determine how long Infeiat had previously spent in prison. Accordingly, it is impossible to calculate the accurate sum the PA has paid him to date or his current salary. Having said that, if PMW adopts the most lenient assumption and assumes that Infeiat has not yet passed the three-year-in-prison threshold, and he is receiving only the most basic salary of 1,400 shekels/month ($432), the PA has already paid Infeiat a cumulative sum of 26,600 ($8,312). Infeiat is still at large.
In contrast to the huge salaries the PA pays to the terrorist prisoners, the “Labour Force Survey (July- September, 2020) Round (Q3/2020)” published by the PA Central Bureau of Statistics presented the following picture:
- The average monthly wage (23 days working) of a Palestinian working for the PA stood at 2,587.5 shekels ($809).
- The average monthly wage (23 days working) of a Palestinian working in the Palestinian private sector stood at 2,171.2 shekels ($678)
The Press Release on the Results of the Labour Force Survey First Quarter (January – March, 2021) Round, also published by the PA Central Bureau of Statistics “29% of wage employees in the private sector receive less than the minimum wage (1,450 NIS).”
So if you are a Palestinian who has to choose between actually working for a living or participating in terrorist activities and receiving a huge PA funded salary, the sound financial choice would be clear.