Whenan American college student studying in Israel, was shot dead during a random terrorist attack, his mother grieved. But, when she found out that the Palestinian government is paying the killer a monthly stipend, she took her outrage to the United Nations.
In 2015, Ezra Schwartz was an 18-year-old high school graduate from Sharon, Massachusetts. He was to study business at Rutgers University in 2016, but first, he was taking a gap year to study at a yeshiva in Israel. He got on a plane and never came back.
In November 2015, he was in a minivan from the Jewish school, Yeshivat Ashreinu in Beit Shemesh. They were headed to a park, where they would volunteer to help clean it up. That’s when Mohammed Abed Odeb Harub opened fire out on the street. The gun blast hit the van and Ezra and two other students died in the attack.
An Israeli court sentenced the gunman to four life sentences. But now it appears the Palestinian Authority is paying thousands of dollars each month to the killer in prison. This is a regular practice and the PA is estimated to be shelling out close to $130 million to incarcerated terrorists and $175 million to their families. They consider such prisoners “martyrs” and pay them and their families a stipend to compensate for their religious service to the country.
Now his mother, Ruth Schwartz, is appealing to a United Nations forum to ask them to stop the payments. The forum was an international panel called to specifically end the glorification of terrorism.
“My son’s killer and his family should not be compensated for murdering innocent people. It is just another way to glorify and encourage terrorism. It’s offensive and wrong,” she said. “My son is the victim of the worst crime. He was brutally taken from his family and friends forever. He will never be able to have fun or make someone smile, go to college, get married, have children or do anything in this world again. I will never again get to hug him or tell him that I love him. Instead, I get to visit him at the cemetery.”
She called the revelation that the Palestinian government is paying the killer, “another twist of the knife.”
She told reporters later, “It just doesn’t feel fair that the terrorist is sitting in jail proud of himself, supporting his family. It doesn’t feel right, and I felt that I needed to say something for my son.”
The event was organized by UN Ambassador Danny Danon, who called attention to the issue because much of the money used to compensate these terrorists comes in the form of foreign aid.
The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs states that Palestinian terrorists receive a monthly equivalent of 1,400 NIS ($320) per month for people in jail less than three years. It pays 7,000 NIS ($1956), to those imprisoned for 15-20 years. For terrorists in jail for more than 30 years, they receive 12,000 NIS ($3354) every month.
Harub is in the last category so he rakes in about $40,000 a year for the rest of his life because he several American kids. This is five times higher than the average annual salary in the country.
“This is, in other words, blood money,” Danon said. “If teaching hate were an Olympic sport, [PA President] Mahmoud Abbas and his government would win a gold medal. In a perfect world, the international community would come right to the side of Israel and condemn both the PA and the terrorists themselves immediately following these hateful acts. But we do not live in a perfect world. The international community remained silent.”
According to Danon, the payments account for about 30% of the foreign aid they receive, and only 7% of their total annual budget. Currently, the United States sends close to $300 million in foreign aid to Palestine.
“So many members of the Security Council, so many U.N. member states, are sending their people’s money to support terrorists,” said Danon.
The Taylor Force Act, a congressional bill sponsored by South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham would end foreign aid to Palestine if they continue to pay terrorists. Taylor Force was a U.S. Army veteran who was murdered last year while off-duty in Tel Aviv. His killer was killed by the Israeli police, but the PA still sends his family money. There are a few supporters of the bill in Congress but they are not sure if there is enough to pass. Graham believes that if he can get it to Trump’s desk, he would have the full support of the President.
Ruth Schwartz is now campaigning to have the payments stopped in her son’s stead, and her story may be a kingpin to affect change.
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