Israel rules terrorist bank accounts illegal, sparking riot in Jenin

Riot erupts in Jenin as Israeli security order rules banks that maintain accounts for security prisoners are subject to prosecution.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

Armed gunmen shot at banks across Jenin, burned ATMs and branch fronts, and threatened to destroy the city’s financial district, reported Makor Rishon.

The rioting was sparked by a new executive order in Judea and Samaria, which declares that maintaining a bank account for a Palestinian security prisoner is a crime.

The Central Command’s Chief of Staff Nadav Padan ruled that banking services should not be available to security prisoners and released prisoners.

The directive makes banks and their employees subject to prison sentences and economic sanctions if they maintain bank accounts for prisoners.

Banks operating under the Palestinian Authority asked customers connected to security prisoners to withdraw their money before closing their accounts. The banks announced that as of next month, no deposits to prisoner accounts would be accepted. Palestinian sources said this totals about $12 million monthly.

Near Jenin, masked men attacked the Palestinian Authority regional headquarters. In a statement read by one of the men, the group said that the PA is cooperating with Israel in allowing the bank accounts to be closed.

As his group shot at the PA building, the man said the decision proves the need for a Palestinian state. He also promised a fight on the ground and support for prisoners, the wounded and martyrs.

The decision to freeze Palestinian prisoner bank accounts was signed as a directive three months ago, in February 2020, but has only come into enforcement now.

“We’ve been raising the issue of payments made to terrorists for years,” attorney Maurice Hirsch of Palestinian Media Watch told Makor Rishon. “We welcome the new legislation in Judea and Samaria strengthening the provisions of the Counterterrorism Law.”

Hirsch, who heads PMW’s legal department, said that his group sent warning letters to banks operating across the Authority explaining that if they maintained bank accounts for terrorists, they would be subject to criminal charges, and even to civil lawsuits.

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh announced he had agreed with the banks to freeze the prisoners’ accounts and commissioned a panel to determine next steps. The PA also said that a relief fund will be set up for prisoners and others who will be affected by the order.

The president of the International Palestinian Economic Council, Dr. Adnan Magali, spoke out against the order, saying the threat posed by Israel to Palestinian banks required more drastic action.

“The prisoners’ financial rights must be ensured through Palestinian institutions. Measures such as establishing committees and holding consultations are time-wasting illusions, intended for PR purposes,” said Magali, blasting Shtayyeh’s response.

Magali also said the agreements signed between Israel and the Palestinian Authority are hurting those who have sacrificed their freedom for the Palestinian people. “Banks should be protected from international legal action,” he said.

Hirsch linked the directive to the decision that Israel will soon transfer a loan of hundreds of millions of shekels to the PA.

“This loan undermines the policy by which Israel is attempting to stop payments to terrorists,” he said.

“The Israeli government is now giving funds to the PA, ignoring the devastating incitement of the PA against Israel and Jews. The PA can use this money, which comes from Israeli taxpayers, to continue payments to terrorists. Equally ridiculous, the PA is likely to use these funds to continue funding and promoting Israel’s investigation by the International Criminal Court,” he said.

“The Israeli government is currently funding the campaign against itself, the IDF and the citizens of the state,” said Hirsch.