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Palestinian general has been pocketing salaries for 7,000 fictitious troopers

15 September, 2006
An examination of the payrolls of the Palestinian Authority's National Security force, considered the largest of the Palestinian security forces, commanded by General Haj Ismail Jabber, has revealed that salaries for 7,000 fictitious troopers were being paid into his pocket every month.

The salaries for police at the lower ranks range from $300-400 a month, which means that some $2 million a month from PA funds was being paid to the general.

For the past eight months donor countries have been demanding the PA stop the practice of handing over the cash payrolls of the security services to the commanders of each of the separate forces, for them to hand out as pay to their subordinates.

The donor countries, including the European Union and other countries have been demanding PA Finance Minister Salam Fayyad cease the practice, and indeed, during the government of Mahmoud Abbas, troops from parts of the Preventive Security force, the police and civil defense units were paid through direct payments into their bank accounts. According to Abbas, some 22 percent of the Palestinian police were paid that way during his term.

But over the same period Haj Imsail, backed by Yasser Arafat, refused to provide a list of his troops, which led to clashes with Fayyad, including attacks on the PA's treasury offices in Gaza.

Stepped-up pressure on Fayyad by donor countries to come up with the full payroll lists, combined with a PA budget deficit in the hundreds of millions of dollars that makes the PA desperate for the donations, led a few days ago to the transfer to the PA treasury of a diskette with the full list of names of people receiving salaries from Haj Ismail. And there, it turned out that while Haj Ismail was claiming salaries for 37,000 people, there were only 30,000 on the list.

In addition, it turned out that Haj Ismail was receiving the salaries for his troops according to the exchange rate used in Israel, around NIS 4.5 to the dollar, while he paid his troops according to NIS 3.7 to the dollar, a rate used by the PA. That gap meant another half a million dollars a month went into his pocket. Today, for the first time, the National Security forces will be paid their March salaries through their bank accounts instead of in cash. And Haj Ismail's secret extra salary will cease flowing to him.
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