June 11, 2007.
Some of the Palestinian gunmen who participated in the kidnapping of IDF
soldier Cpl. Gilad Schalit last year have long been on the payroll of the
Palestinian Authority (PA), Palestinian sources revealed Sunday.
The sources named two of the suspected kidnappers as Muhammad Azmi
Farawneh and Majdi Tayseer Hammad. The two were killed by Israel in separate
attacks over the past year.
Farawneh is believed to have played a key role in the abduction of
Schalit. Hammad was the commander of the Nasser Salah Eddin Brigades, the
armed wing of the Popular Resistance Committees – one of the groups that
claimed responsibility for the kidnapping.
The two were killed a few weeks after the abduction in air strikes
launched by the IAF in the Gaza Strip.
The fact that they have been on the payroll of the PA was disclosed after their
families protested against the low pension that the PA has decided to allocate
them. Farawneh’s family is now receiving a monthly payment of NIS 38 (less
than $10), while Hammad’s family is getting only NIS 79 (just under $20).
A Palestinian pension law approved in 2005 grants the families of PA
pensioners and the deceased monthly salaries constituting 7.5% of the basic
The families have sought the assistance of a Palestinian legal group in exerting
pressure on the PA to change the pension law so that they would receive larger
sums of money.
The group wrote over the weekend to PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas
and PA Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas protesting against the
“injustice” done to the families of Palestinian “martyrs” and pensioners.
The group, called the Association Center for Palestinian Right, also wrote to
members of the Palestinian Legislative Council asking them to change the law
immediately, saying it was inconceivable that the families of “martyrs” should
receive such ridiculous payments.
Almost all Palestinians who are killed in clashes with the IDF are entitled
to a salary from the PA to support their families.
The PA has also been paying salaries to thousands of Fatah gunmen belonging
to the faction’s armed wing, the Aksa Martyrs Brigades. The majority of these
gunmen are registered as members of various branches of the PA security
forces, particularly the General Intelligence, Force 17 and the Preventive
But until now it was not common knowledge that members of the
Popular Resistance Committees had also been receiving salaries from the PA.
The Popular Resistance Committees is an alliance of various armed factions in
the Gaza Strip, including Hamas and the Popular Front for the Liberation of
Palestine. The group was also behind the roadside bomb attack that killed three
US security guards in the northern Gaza Strip in 2003.