First a Saudi cleric offered $100,000 to anyone who successfully kidnaps an Israeli soldier to be used as leverage for the release of more Palestinian terrorists from Israeli prison. Then Saudi Prince Khaled bin Talal bin Abdul Aziz al Saud rounded that offer up to a million dollars. Now, his uncle King Abdullah is offering a perk of his own to terrorists.
King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia is covering an all-expenses-paid trip to the Hajj pilgrimage for Palestinians released from Israeli prison last month in the exchange Israel negotiated with Hamas for the release of soldier Gilad Shalit. Among the released were those serving multiple life sentences for carrying out deadly terrorist attacks targeting Israeli and, in some cases, American civilians.
Flying commercial is presumably beneath these new celebrities, so King Abdullah was providing a private plane, as the Middle East Monitor reported last week:
An aircraft provided by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has been put at the disposal of ex-prisoners from Gaza in order to fly them to the kingdom to perform the Hajj pilgrimage.
Ziad Abu Ein, a senior official in the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) Ministry of Prisoners and Freed Detainees, told Voice of Palestine radio that the ex-prisoner pilgrims were exempted from any fees involved. Rafah border crossing officials worked intensely last week to prepare passports and visas, according to the Palestinian interior ministry.
Ensuring a comfortable flight and soft landing upon arrival, Palestinian officials even found a way to solve the problem of severe travel restrictions Saudi authorities place on women:
The women prisoners, said Mr Abu Ein, will travel together as a group to overcome difficulties arising from women having to have close male relatives (“muhrim”) with them when travelling to Saudi Arabia.
Travel to Saudi Arabia for the Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam to be performed by Muslims at least once in their lifetime. Millions of Muslims converge each year for the rite at Mecca, the birthplace of the prophet Mohammed.
The all-expenses-paid trip comes on the heels of rewards Hamas and the Palestinian Authority have showered on the released prisoners. Included in the basket of goodies: new homes, cash rewards of $7,000 ($2,000 from Hamas + $5,000 from the PA), free hotel nights and free cellphones.
According to UNICEF figures from 2009, more than 70 per cent of Gazans live in poverty, with an income of less than $250 a month – or $3,000 a year – for a family of up to nine. Just the cash grants to the released prisoners are more than double the average annual income for Gaza. Is the Saudi, Hamas and Palestinian Authority largesse sending a signal to law-abiding Palestinians that perhaps the shortest route to riches is to attack Israelis?
After the dramatic rescue of the Chilean miners who were trapped underground for 69 days, the government of Israel invited them and their families for an all-expenses-paid pilgrimage to the Holy Land earlier this year where they toured Christian sacred sites in Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and the Galilee. Some even “re-baptized” themselves in the Jordan River. A celebration of life which stands in marked contrast to the celebration of death surrounding the released Palestinian terrorists.