Benny Gantz
Benny Gantz צילום: אלעד מלכה

In an urgent petition to the Supreme Court, families of terror victims state that in 2020 the Palestinian Authority paid about NIS 512 million to terrorists serving imprisonment in Israel and to released terrorists.

Most of these funds come from tax payments by PA residents working in Israel, and from funds that Israel transfers to the PA. "In doing so, the State of Israel is financing terrorism against itself," the petition reads.

The Knesset enacted a law in 2018 to put an end to this situation. The law stipulates that at the end of each year, the Defense Minister will submit a report to the Political-Security Cabinet for approval, detailing all the money paid by the PA to terrorists and their families last year, and more importantly - that this amount will be deducted and frozen from the funds Israel provides to the PA in the following year.

But "the government is not willing to act in accordance with the law," the petition said, while Defense Minister Benny Gantz has not yet submitted the report to the security cabinet for approval.

"The defense minister's failure stands in stark contrast to his duty under the law, and allows the continued financing of terrorism against Israel with money transferred by the State of Israel itself," the petition claims.

The petition was filed by Adv. Yitzhak Bam, on behalf of Herzl and Meirav Hajaj, the parents of Lieutenant Shir Hajaj, in a ramming attack in the Armon Hanatziv neighborhood in Jerusalem, Shai Maimon, who was wounded in a terrorist attack in 2015, the organizations Lavi, Choosing Life Forum of Bereaved Families, Im Tirtzu and The Legal Forum for the Land of Israel.

This is not the first time the bereaved families have petitioned the Supreme Court over the government's failure to enforce the law penalizing the PA for financing terrorism. The defense minister did not submit the required report to the security cabinet in 2020 either.

Only following a previous petition filed by the bereaved families and public organizations through Adv. Bam, and after several postponements requested by the Supreme Court, did Minister Gantz bring the report to the cabinet for approval, but only at the end of 2020, so the payments to terrorists in 2019 will only be deducted from the taxes transferred to the PA in 2021.

The Lavi organization stated: "The State of Israel continues to transfer large sums of money to the Palestinian Authority, which passes them directly and quickly to the most despicable terrorists in reward for the murder of Jews. This is a moral disgrace and a violation of Israeli law. We demand that the Prime Minister and the Minister of Defense act in accordance with the provisions of the law as written and as worded, without tricks and lies."

The Choosing Life Forum stated: "We demand that the Minister of Defense and the government of Israel end this habit where on the one hand you pledge to fight terrorism and on the other hand do everything you can to help the PA financially and prevent real and quick offsets that could deter the PA from supporting terrorism and thus save the lives of Israeli citizens."

Shai Maimon stated: "We are experiencing an absurd situation where despite an explicit law directing the offsetting of terrorist money from the Palestinian Authority, since the beginning of 2019 the Israeli government has not acted according to the law. It is acceptable."

Im Tirtzu stated: "The Israeli public is tired of a cowardly defense minister and calls on him to have courage and to bring all the material to the cabinet for approval in order to stop transferring money to murderers of Jews - the sooner the better."

Attorney Yotam Eyal, the CEO of the Legal Forum for the Land of Israel, stated: "It is amazing that such a basic thing as not financing people who kill you is a question that is on the table at all. The primary interest of the State of Israel is to protect its citizens and not to give funding to those who want to harm them. The State of Israel continues to make light of the law time and time again and does not deduct the terrorists' salary money in violation of explicit law and contrary to all human reason. The Legal Forum will fight with every possible tool to ensure that the State of Israel protects its citizens."