Tel Aviv District Court lets state seize ‘pay for slay’ funds from terrorist prisoner
The Defense Ministry announced on Monday that a court has endorsed its seizure of “pay for slay” funds to a prisoner who aided a terrorist killer of six Israelis in 2005.
The Tel Aviv District Court decision was handed down on Sunday but announced on Monday, ruling that a new 2016 anti-terror law permitted seizing the funds in order to deter terrorism.
“Pay for slay” is the controversial practice by which the Palestinian Authority pays funds to Palestinian terrorist prisoners who took action against Israelis, and to their families. Israel and the US have both passed legislation against the practice, but the PA defends it as supporting families who have often lost their main wage earner through no fault of their own, or as being necessary to keep prisoners from changing their loyalty to Hamas.
A lawyer for the prisoner, Mansur Omar, initially opposed the seizure with a petition to the court to block it, but withdrew it after the court warned that failure to withdraw could lead to both a negative ruling and court costs.
Omar’s lawyer had complained that the seizure of funds was based on classified intelligence which he was not allowed to see and which left him unable to properly rebut any claims against his client of even any indirect connection he might have to terrorism.
However, following a closed door hearing in which the Defense Ministry presented the full intelligence information to the court only, it said that the evidence was extremely convincing and that the seizure was proper.
The ministry said that the terrorism incident was in October 2005 and took place in Hadera, with Omar helping transport the terrorist.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz praised the decision, saying that “my intention is to move forward with a variety of processes using the division for combating terror [within the Defense Ministry] to block the transfer of funds to terrorists and terror organizations.”