(Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90) Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90
Palestinians Gaza Bank

After banks told terrorists and their families to withdraw balances before they are closed, Hamas threatened to take action against them for “surrendering to Israeli dictates and threats.”

By Baruch Yedid and Aryeh Savir, TPS

Banks in the Palestinian Authority (PA) have recently begun to close accounts owned by terrorists who were released from Israel through which they receive PA stipends. The move comes after an Israeli warning that the funds in the banks will be considered terror funding.

In response, Hamas threatened to take action against the banks because of what it called their “surrender to the Israeli dictates and threats.”

Hamas senior official Majd Hassan has urged the Arab public to boycott any bank that acts against the “prisoners,” a euphemism for those who commit violent acts of terrorism against Israelis.

Azam a-Shaw, a senior PA financial official, denied that the banks had decided to close the accounts.

Israeli legislation took effect on Saturday applying substantial parts of Israel’s Anti-Terror Law to Judea and Samaria. The new legislation provides that any person who conducts any transaction with assets, including money, in order to facilitate, further, fund, or reward a person for carrying out terror-related offenses, is himself committing an offense punishable with 10 years in prison and a substantial fine.

The PA has a policy of paying monthly stipends to the families of convicted terrorists imprisoned in Israel, released terrorists and the families of terrorists killed while committing attacks. The payments have been criticized as a financial incentive to commit terrorist attacks against Israelis.

Bank branches have informed the former prisoners and their families that they must withdraw the balance of the money from their accounts before they are closed and that the paycheck paid to them by the PA through the bank will be the last.

Sources report that family members were asked to arrive at the branches and sign account closure documents.

Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) recently dispatched a letter warning bank officials that failing to close the accounts could result in potential criminal and civil action for aiding and abetting the payment of the PA’s terror rewards to terrorist prisoners

Sources told TPS that there is a serious concern among bank administrators in the PA and eastern Jerusalem over the accounts of prisoners’ families, after receiving the warning letter that the prisoners’ money will be considered terrorist funds and the banks themselves will be exposed to legal action.

PMW noted that based on the speed with which the PA banks are responding to its letter, it seems that it “accurately identified the banks as the weak link in the PA’s terror reward program.”

Many of these banks are foreign banks that conduct business internationally and would not want to faced the threat of criminal or civil proceedings for supporting terrorism.

This step by the banks has raised criticism among prisoners and terrorist organizations who have accused the banks of surrendering to Israel and are calling for punitive measures against them. The prisoners have called on the PA to act against the banks.

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