Ramallah: Dozens of released Palestinian prisoners who had served decades in Israeli regime jails have not received their allowances for the past three years, said a senior Palestinian official.
According to Eisa Qaraqei, who heads the PLO Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs, the Palestinian consensus government must solve the issue of the long-delayed salaries of the former prisoners with immediate effect. “Long delays have devastated the lives of many ex-prisoners who served more than 20 years behind Israeli bars,” he told Gulf News. “The longer the salaries are delayed, the more former prisoners and families suffer and find it rather difficult to survive.”
Qaraqei pointed an accusing finger at the Israeli occupation and some Western countries that put in massive pressure to deprive the Palestinian prisoners and former prisoners of their financial rights under the pretext that prisoners and ex-prisoners are “terrorists” who should not be entitled to any financial privileges.
Responding to pressure, the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) closed its Prisoners Affairs Ministry in September 2014 and replaced it with a commission that would report directly to the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) which began to handle the payment of the prisoners and former prisoners and the PNA’s annual budget to the PLO was raised to cover the needs. Israel claimed that the PLO commission is identical to the old PNA Ministry of Prisoners’ Affairs in everything but name.
According to Palestinian law, once a Palestinian is arrested by the Israeli occupation forces, the PNA starts granting him 1,400 Shekels a month; the prisoner’s salary increases to 2,000 Shekels once the prisoner reaches two years in prison, 4,000 Shekels after five years in prison and jumps to 6,000 Shekels when the prisoner reaches ten years in prison. The scheme for those who serve more than five years in Israeli jails even enhances when they are released, but those who are released before five years of imprisonment receive only a financial aid of six months’ allowance as lump sum. No further assistance is given.
Qadoura Fares, who heads the Palestinian Prisoner Society, said recent years have been tough on the Palestinian prisoners. “Israeli brutal policies towards Palestinian prisoners made years of extremely tough conditions,” he said.