The Palestinian Authority revealed on Wednesday that it was paying monthly salaries to Hamas prisoners held in Israeli jails.
Ziad Abu Ein, deputy minister for prisoner affairs, said that for years, the PA had been dealing with the prisoners “professionally and without political considerations.”RELATED:PA to hold local elections in JulyHamas calls for protest against 'PA concessions'
The PA spends millions of dollars in payments to Hamas prisoners, he said, “while officials of the Hamas government’s Ministry for Prisoner Affairs [in the Gaza Strip] are receiving salaries and drinking coffee instead of providing any services to Palestinian prisoners and their families.”
According to Abu Ein, the Hamas ministry pays monthly salaries only to prisoners who are affiliated with the Islamist movement.
Abu Ein told the Bethlehembased Maan news agency that the PA had stopped paying salaries to some Hamas prisoners who had been recruited to the movement’s security forces in the Gaza Strip after they were released from Israeli prison.
Abu Ein’s remarks came in response to allegations by Hamas that the PA had cut off salaries to Hamas prisoners who had been released from Israeli prison. Hamas said that among those affected by the decision were dozens of prisoners who had spent more than 15 years in Israeli jails.
As part of its crackdown on Hamas, the PA has, in recent years, fired hundreds of teachers and imams in the West Bank who were suspected of being affiliated with Hamas.
Also on Wednesday, PA security forces arrested Fayyad al- Aghbar, a senior Hamas official from Nablus. Aghbar is also a member of the city’s municipal council.