The family of a Palestinian high school dropout who killed a 13-year-old Jewish girl, Hallel Yaffa Ariel, Hy”d, in her sleep last month in Kiryat Arba before being shot dead is now eligible for $350 a month from a Palestinian fund for “martyrs.”
Israel contends that such stipends promote terrorism by rewarding attacks, and has stepped up a campaign against the fund after a series of killings in Yehudah and Shomron.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu called the payments “an incentive for murder,” and a government spokesman said that starting next month, Israel would deduct those sums from monthly transfers of taxes and customs it collects on behalf of the Palestinians.
The fund makes monthly payments to about 35,000 families of Palestinians killed and wounded in the long-running conflict with Israel, with a budget of $170 million this year, according to Palestinian figures. These include families of Palestinian suicide bombers.
By comparison, Israel transfers about $125 million a month, or $1.5 billion a year, to the Palestinian Authority in tax and customs rebates, money that belongs to the Palestinians. The transfers are a key revenue source for the cash-strapped autonomy government, and Israel has withheld payment in the past as a disincentive to terror.
Palestinian officials defend the stipends as a kind of welfare payment to help victims of Israel’s “occupation” — providing stipends to families, scholarships to university students and assistance to widows.
Israel says the payments glorify terrorism, part of what it sees as a broader trend of “incitement” blamed for fueling renewed violence over the past year.
It argues that fiery speeches by Palestinian leaders, venomous posts on social media networks and the naming of public squares after Palestinians who killed Israelis have created a hate-filled climate.
The next battleground could involve international assistance, as Israel argues that the martyrs’ fund is inadvertently subsidized by Western and Arab aid to the Palestinian Authority. The self-rule government receives several hundred million dollars a year in foreign aid.
The U.S., a key donor, has passed legislation meant to keep its aid from reaching the fund.
As a safeguard, U.S. money is earmarked for specific purposes, and the legislation “requires us to deduct from our own development assistance to the Palestinian Authority amounts equal to payments to individuals for acts of terrorism,” said the U.S. Consulate in Yerushalayim, in a statement.
In principle, Tarayreh’s parents are now eligible for support from the “martyrs’ fund.”
Each family of a Palestinian killed by Israel receives a base monthly payment of 1,400 shekels ($350), said the head of the fund, Intisar al-Wazir, the widow of PLO military chief Khalil al-Wazir, who was assassinated by Israeli commandos in 1988.
If they were married, the amount increases by $100, and $50 is added for each child, she said. Children of those killed by Israel receive support until age 18, or until they begin working. Those attending university receive support until graduation.