A Palestinian demonstrator returns a tear gas canister fired by Israeli troops during clashes at the Hawara checkpoint near Nablus, December 2, 2018.
(photo credit: MOHAMAD TOROKMAN/REUTERS)
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the Palestinian Authority issued a joint statement on Monday in which they launched a $350 million appeal to “address the critical humanitarian needs of Palestinians.”
In the appeal, they called upon the international community to help in securing the requested funds for 2019 to provide basic food, protection, health care, shelter, water and sanitation to 1.4 million Palestinians, who have been identified as most in need of humanitarian interventions in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank and east Jerusalem.
On Tuesday, the organization Palestinian Media Watch expressed outrage that the sum being raised by the UN and PA is equivalent to the $355 million dollars, which the PA allocated in its 2018 budget, to fund its payments to terrorists’ families. This sum includes payments to terrorists in prison, those released from prison and families of terrorists killed while carrying out attacks, including suicide bombers.
“Instead of the UN asking donor countries to contribute $350 million to provide Palestinian ‘humanitarian needs,’ the UN should be joining the unequivocal call from many governments that the PA immediately stop squandering the $355 million dollars of its own funds on its ‘Pay for Slay’ policy that incentivizes and rewards terrorism, and instead spend that money on needy Palestinians,” said Maurice Hirsch, head of legal strategies at Palestinian Media Watch.
Hirsch said that abolishing the “Pay for Slay” policy would re-open the door for the PA to receive the approximately $215 million dollars of US aid, which has been withheld by the American Taylor Force Act
. This will avert the imminent deduction by Israel of the PA’s expenditures on salaries for terrorists and their families from the tax revenues Israel collects and transfers to them. He said it would also ensure that the PA would not lose funding from Australia and the Netherlands.
“The so-called Palestinian humanitarian crisis is a self-imposed crisis created by the PA leaders,” Hirsch said. “The leaders of the PA have repeatedly made their moral bankruptcy crystal clear by saying, that even if they only have one penny left in the bank, they will spend it on the terrorists before any other Palestinians. It is altogether unclear why the UN’s OCHA has decided that it is appropriate to assist the PA in raising the funds it needs to support its pugnacious policy of financially rewarding terrorists.”
UN officials declined to respond to Palestinian Media Watch connecting the fundraising appeal with the funding for terrorists and their families. But said that the funding would go to a long list of humanitarian projects in a 58-page plan that is open to the public on the OCHA website.
The UN said in a press release that the PA’s minister of social development, Ibrahim al-Shaer, and the UN’s humanitarian coordinator, Jamie McGoldrick, launched the fundraising effort to raise money for 203 projects that will be implemented by 88 organizations, including 38 national, 37 international NGOs, as well as 13 UN agencies. About 77% of the requested funds target those in Gaza.
“The humanitarian context in the occupied Palestinian territories is still deteriorating due to the Israeli occupation violations in a time of a lack of resources and declining funds because of the politicization of the humanitarian aid,” al-Shaer said. “We have a big concern over the rights and services for the poorest and most vulnerable households who are in need of humanitarian interventions.”
McGoldrick said the situation in the PA is preventing Palestinians from accessing health care, clean water, jobs and other needs.
“Humanitarian actors are facing unprecedented challenges, including record-low funding and a rise in attacks to delegitimize humanitarian action,” McGoldrick said. “This year’s plan is a new approach, reflecting what we can realistically accomplish in this highly-constrained context. We recognize that much more assistance is needed, and indeed we can do much more, but we require increased support of the international community.”
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