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February 17, 2023 11:42 am

Palestinian Terrorist Who Sent Others to Murder 3 Gets BA Degree in Prison

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avatar by Nan Jacques Zilberdik


Israeli security personnel stand together outside the walls of Gilboa prison after six Palestinian militants broke out of it in north Israel September 6, 2021. REUTERS/ Gil Eliyahu

Although Israel has cancelled their access to higher education, imprisoned Palestinian terrorists continue to earn university degrees in prison.

Lately, terrorist Iyad Masalmeh, who is serving four life sentences for sending and directing other terrorists to commit a shooting attack in which they murdered three Israelis, including a pregnant woman, has earned a bachelor’s degree in social work:

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Official PA TV host: “What characterizes Iyad [Masalmeh]?”

Brother of terrorist Iyad Masalmeh: “Iyad is a man who loves everyone, helps everyone in prison… He is beloved among the prisoners, everyone loves him. He spends his time studying, and praise Allah he has now completed a bachelor’s degree in social work in prison.”

Host: “This [studying] is also defiance carried out by the prisoners [against the occupation].”

[Official PA TV, “Giants of Endurance,” Feb. 2, 2023]

Terrorist Bakr Abu Ubeid is serving two life sentences for transporting a suicide bomber into Israel, where he murdered two Israelis, one of them a 15-year-old boy. Abu Ubeid has earned both a BA and an MA in prison. According to WAFA, the official Palestinian Authority (PA) news agency: “Prisoner Bakr Abu Ubeid … began his 21st year in the Israeli occupation’s prisons … While in captivity, Abu Ubeid achieved a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree.”

The university program for terrorist prisoners is organized and maintained by the PA Ministry of Higher Education and the PLO Commission of Prisoners and Released Prisoners’ Affairs, in cooperation with a number of Palestinian universities, as Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) has exposed. The two official institutions take great pride in the program, and host graduation ceremonies at which relatives of the terrorist prisoner graduates receive their diplomas on their behalf. At one such ceremony, Director of the PLO Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs Qadri Abu Bakr stressed the extent of the program:

Director of [PLO] Commission of Prisoners and Released Prisoners’ Affairs Qadri Abu Bakr [stated that] every year approximately 600 prisoners take the high school matriculation exams, and 800 prisoners also join various specializations. In recent years 783 prisoners succeeded in receiving a bachelor’s degree and 137 received a master’s degree.

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Dec. 16, 2022]

The PA’s Minister of Justice also endorses the prison studies for terrorists. He approved certificates for terrorist prisoners who took a “course on international law and human rights”:

Official PA TV newsreader: “The Center for Defense of Liberties and Civil Rights — the Hurryyat Association organized a class graduation ceremony for prisoners in Ramon Prison, after they completed a course on international law and human rights. … The parents received the certificates of the prisoners … [who] completed 100 hours of training over six months.” …

Director of the Hurryyat Association Hilmi Al-A’araj: “The course lasted six months… 36 prisoners completed it… The [PA] Minister of Justice approved the certificates and the [PA] Ministry of Justice signed them.”

[Official PA TV News, Aug. 24, 2022]

PMW has documented how the university program works inside the prisons and bypasses the Israeli Prison Service, and exposed that other convicted terrorists serve as academic staff and are teaching fellow prisoners for their university degrees. This practice was documented again when a released prisoner thanked his “lecturers” in prison by name, identifying three terrorists who were all involved in murder:

Released prisoner Raed Abu Atiq: “[For my academic studies] at Ramon Prison, I want to give my full thanks to my lecturers, lecturer Ahed Abu Gholmeh [i.e., terrorist, planned murder of Israeli Minister of Tourism Rehavam Ze’evi]… [I thank] lecturer brother Sa’id Shtayyeh [i.e., terrorist, involved in murder of two], lecturer Maslama Thabet [i.e., terrorist, involved in murder of two], and everyone who helped me during my studies. I especially thank the anonymous soldiers who helped bring in the master’s degree program of University of Palestine into Ramon Prison.”

[Official PA TV, “Giants of Endurance,” Dec. 22, 2022]

Another released prisoner explained that a convicted murderer of two is “responsible for the studies” in the Ketziot prison in the Negev:

Released prisoner Abd Al-Salam Abu Muhsin: “[Al-Quds] University [in] Abu Dis is active in the Hadarim Prison, and Al-Quds Open University is active in all the prisons. In the Negev prison… brother Maslama Thabet [i.e., terrorist, murdered two people, together with accomplices]… is responsible for the studies there, and Allah Master of the Universe be praised, there are many prisoners studying for a master’s degree.”

[Official PA TV, “Giants of Endurance,” Sept. 1, 2022]

Other terrorist prisoners have earned degrees in law, political science, economics or history.

Azmi Sahl Naffa, a 21-year-old Palestinian terrorist who is serving 20 years for committing a car ramming attack and wounding four, studied law:

Prisoner Azmi Sahl Naffa … has been imprisoned since Nov. 24, 2015, and is serving a 20-year sentence… He was arrested before completing his university studies and completed his studies in prison, obtaining a bachelor’s degree in law.” [emphasis added]

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Nov. 25, 2022]

Similarly, terrorist prisoner Muhammad Subhi Muhammad Abu Tabih who is serving two life sentences for sending a suicide bomber to an attack in which he murdered two, has earned degrees in political science and economics and history:

During the years of his imprisonment, prisoner Muhammad Subhi Muhammad Abu Tabih succeeded in doing a bachelor’s degree in political science and economics and a master’s degree in history, and also succeeded in learning English and Hebrew and publishing a book entitled ‘The Straight Path.’”

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, July 29, 2022]

In 2006, Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was kidnapped by Hamas terrorists and held hostage for over five years, while Hamas demanded he be exchanged for terrorists including murderers in Israeli prisons. While the captive Israeli soldier was suffering in isolation, Palestinian terrorist prisoners enjoyed their many benefits  — including access to higher education.

In 2011, Israel decided to cancel many of these benefits, including cancelling their access to higher education. Appeals submitted by imprisoned terrorists were discussed at length, including in decisions of Israel’s Supreme Court in 2012 and in 2015. The appeals were rejected after the courts ruled that the terrorists do not have a specific right to participate in higher education, and that the fact that they are categorized as “security prisoners” is sufficient to distinguish them from criminal prisoners, who are entitled to participate in higher education.

The author is a senior analyst at Palestinian Media Watch, where a version of this article first appeared.

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