PA paying Schalit captors' families

Exclusive: Relatives of kidnappers complain bereavement payments too low.

shalit, gilad, 298 ap (photo credit: AP)
shalit, gilad, 298 ap
(photo credit: AP)
Some of the Palestinian gunmen who participated in the kidnapping of IDF soldier Cpl. Gilad Schalit last year have long been on the payroll of the Palestinian Authority, Palestinian sources revealed Sunday. The sources named two of the suspected kidnappers as Muhammad Azmi Farawneh and Majdi Tayseer Hammad. The two were killed by Israel in separate attacks over the past year. Farawneh is believed to have played a key role in the abduction of Schalit. Hammad was the commander of the Nasser Salah Eddin Brigades, the armed wing of the Popular Resistance Committees - one of the groups that claimed responsibility for the kidnapping. The two were killed a few weeks after the abduction in air strikes launched by the IAF in the Gaza Strip. The fact that they have been on the payroll of the PA was disclosed after their families protested against the low pension that the PA has decided to allocate them. Farawneh's family is now receiving a monthly payment of NIS 38 (less than $10), while Hammad's family is getting only NIS 79 (just under $20). A Palestinian pension law approved in 2005 grants the families of PA pensioners and the deceased monthly salaries constituting 7.5% of the basic salary. The families have sought the assistance of a Palestinian legal group in exerting pressure on the PA to change the pension law so that they would receive larger sums of money. The group wrote over the weekend to PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and PA Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas protesting against the "injustice" done to the families of Palestinian "martyrs" and pensioners. The group, called the Association Center for Palestinian Right, also wrote to members of the Palestinian Legislative Council asking them to change the law immediately, saying it was inconceivable that the families of "martyrs" should receive such ridiculous payments. Almost all Palestinians who are killed in clashes with the IDF are entitled to a salary from the PA to support their families. The PA has also been paying salaries to thousands of Fatah gunmen belonging to the faction's armed wing, the Aksa Martyrs Brigades. The majority of these gunmen are registered as members of various branches of the PA security forces, particularly the General Intelligence, Force 17 and the Preventive Security Service. But until now it was not common knowledge that members of the Popular Resistance Committees had also been receiving salaries from the PA. The Popular Resistance Committees is an alliance of various armed factions in the Gaza Strip, including Hamas and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. The group was also behind the roadside bomb attack that killed three US security guards in the northern Gaza Strip in 2003.