Photo by Courtesy the family on 20 March, 2023

Shooting of Ex-US Marine Puts Spotlight on Palestinian Pay-For-Slay Program

Public By Pesach Benson • 20 March, 2023

Jerusalem, 20 March, 2023 (TPS) -- When Palestinian terrorist Leith Nazar opened fire on an Israeli car driving through the village of Huwara on Sunday, he had no idea who he was shooting at a former US Marine who is also a martial arts and weapons instructor and trainer.

And because David Stern is a dual US-Israeli national, the attack is raising questions about the Biden administration’s commitment to the Taylor Force Act. That law, passed in 2018, restricts US aid to Ramallah as long as the Palestinian Authority continues paying special stipends to imprisoned Palestinian terrorists and the families of terrorists killed while carrying out attacks.

Despite being injured in the head, Stern, a New York native, was able to return fire, injuring Nazar, who was quickly caught by responding Israeli security forces.

“The terrorists messed with the wrong guy,” Stern’s brother-in-law, Shlomo Blass, told the Tazpit Press Service. “David is a trained professional at the highest level. He’s a martial art master. He’s the guy you want beside you when you’re in danger.”

A 42-year-old resident of the nearby community of Itamar, Stern volunteers his time to train Israeli special forces and other security personnel, said Blass.

A profile of Stern published by an Israeli newspaper in 2012 called him “Itamar’s very own Rambo.”

Magen David Adom medics evacuated Stern to the Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tivka. A hospital statement issued on Monday morning said that Stern is conscious and in good condition. The statement added that he is not on a ventilator or on sedatives.

Photos from the scene showed the windshield riddled with bullet holes. Soldiers recovered at the scene a Carlo gun, an improvised submachine gun commonly produced by Palestinians.

Stern’s wife, Rachel, was not hit by bullets, but was treated for shock after fainting.

“She wasn’t physically hurt. Obviously, an incident like that, your husband being shot, is something that’s hard to process, but thank God she’s doing well,” Blass told TPS. “She’s thankful and appreciative that this terror attack ended the way it did.”

Blass also told TPS that the Stern’s four children, ages 3-15 “are handling things as well as you’d expect.”

“They are receiving a very warm and loving hug from the community,” he said.

Pinchas Michaeli, a friend and neighbor described Stern as “very modest, quiet but full of life and enthusiasm.”

He said Stern sees training people in self-defense as his “life mission,” and taught martial arts to Michaeli and his son.

The shooting took place on Route 60, a main road in northern Samaria, in the same area where terrorists killed brothers Hallel and Yagael Yaniv in February.

“There’s no other road to go on. My wife drives there without weapons. I come home from work on that road. Everybody uses it,” Michaeli told TPS. “They’re working on a bypass road, but it’s not going to solve the problem. If the Palestinians want to hurt you, they’ll find a way. The solution is for the government and the IDF to fight the terror right now.”

Referring to a March 9 terror attack in Tel Aviv, Michaeli added, “Itamar and the Huwara road are no different than Tel Aviv and the rest of the country. You have terror attacks anywhere.” Three Israelis were wounded when a Palestinian opened fire by a cafe on the city’s busy Dizengoff Street. One of the victims, Or Eshkar, died of his injuries on Monday.

The Taylor Force Act and Pay for Slay

For years, Ramallah has been paying out stipends to imprisoned Palestinian terrorists and to the families of terrorists killed during attacks.

The issue came under a spotlight following the murder of Taylor Force, a US  citizen from Lubock, Texas. Force and another person were killed when Bashar Massalha went on a stabbing rampage in Jaffa in 2018 while then-Vice President Joe Biden was visiting the nearby Shimon Peres Center for Peace.

Eleven other people were injured by Massalha, who was killed by police. It was subsequently discovered that Massalha’s family in Qalqilya was receiving a special stipend from the Palestinian Authority. In response, Congress passed the Taylor Force Act, which restricted US aid to the Palestinians as long as terror stipends are being paid out.

More recently, dual American-Israeli citizen, Elan Ganeles from Connecticut, was killed when Palestinians in a car opened fire on cars near Jericho in February.

Sarri Singer, who runs Strength to Strength, a US-based non-profit organization helping terror victims, recently filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration to force it to abide by the Taylor Force Act. The suit was filed along with Force’s parents, Stuart and Robbi Force, and U.S. Representative Ronny Jackson (R-Texas).

“Any time there’s an American citizen killed, they put out a statement but that’s not enough. These are human lives,” Singer told TPS.

“Wherever I am in the world, my country and my president should be protecting me. And when situations like the current administration resuming my taxpayer money going to the Palestinian Authority — which is going for their pay-for-slay program — I do not feel confident that the administration of this country has any care for any American.”

A comparison of the amount of U.S. aid provided to the Palestinian Authority with the number of people killed in Palestinian terror attacks found that American financial support “fuels terror, not peace,” an Israeli research institute, Palestinian Media Watch recently reported.

Maurice Hirsch, PMW’s Director of Legal Strategies and author of the study, explained to TPS recently that the Palestinians see aid as a “general reflection of political support” from Washington.