October 16, 2015 Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 1193

'Abbas: We Will Continue The Popular Resistance; Israel Is Plotting To Change Status Quo In Jerusalem; Israel Uses Terror, Executes Children

October 16, 2015 | By C. Jacob*
Palestinians | Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 1193

Like the first and second intifadas, the current wave of terrorism is being exploited by Palestinian organizations  and leaders, including by Palestinian President Mahmoud 'Abbas, who attack Israel and accuse it of terror and crimes while making false claims and allegations. Some Palestinian organizations and leaders praised the perpetrators of the attacks, stating that they acted in self-defense. Fatah's military wing, the Al-Aqsa Brigades, even called to escalate the attacks.

In his recent statements and speeches, 'Abbas did not mention any violent Palestinian actions, but spoke only of "popular resistance," which he advocates. This term is highly misleading, since it evokes nonviolent action such as peaceful protests and marches, whereas the recent wave of Palestinian terror has included mostly knifings, many of which resulted in grave injuries and deaths, as well as the throwing of stones and firebombs and the slinging of metal balls, which have also resulted in injuries and deaths.

PA and its head, Mahmoud 'Abbas, have not only refrained from condemning the terror of the recent month, but are encouraging it to continue and are presenting the perpetrators not as attackers who deliberately set out to stab Israelis but as innocent Palestinians whom Israel executed under false pretenses. They call the injuring or killing of terrorists "war crimes" and even state that they mean to sue Israel in the International Criminal Court. The language used by 'Abbas - such as "the terror of the Israeli government and the settler herds", "execution in cold blood," and "Israel's hostile attack" - is obviously not conducive to calming the atmosphere, and in fact incites violence.

Granted, 'Abbas and his security apparatuses are currently working to prevent the spread of the conflicts in the PA territories, and they have indeed arrested Hamas activists. Furthermore, 'Abbas met with Fatah leaders in the various districts, apparently to instruct them to take measures to quell the violence. However, these measures seem to be motivated by the fear of losing control of the situation and by the desire to avoid giving Israel an excuse to retake the PA territories.

Mahmoud 'Abbas (image: Al-Sharq Al-Awsat
, London, October 14, 2014)

The Libel Of A Changed Status Quo At Al-Aqsa 

In his October 14, 2015 speech on Palestinian television, 'Abbas reiterated the libel that was the main catalyst for the current terror incidents, namely that Israel plans to alter the status quo in Jerusalem, despite repeated declarations by Israeli officials that Israel has no intention of doing so. 'Abbas also declared that Israel's actions were sparking a religious conflict. He said: "These days Israel's hostile attack on our Palestinian people, its soil and its holy sites is intensifying, and the savage racism in its ugly form adds hideousness and repulsiveness to the occupation. These pose a threat to peace and stability and herald the lighting of the fuse of a religious conflict that will spark an all-consuming conflagration not only in the [Middle East] region but in the entire world. This is a warning bell for the international community to immediately intervene in a positive manner, before it will be too late.

"We say explicitly and unequivocally that we will not agree to a change in the status quo in the blessed Al-Aqsa and we will not allow Israel to carry out any plot intended to damage its sanctity and its purely Islamic [character]. The right [over Al-Qasa] is our exclusive right - Palestinians and Muslims everywhere. We seek rights, justice and peace. We have attacked nobody and we will not agree to attacks on our people, our homeland and our holy sites."[1]

It should be mentioned that, one month ago, in a meeting with East Jerusalem residents, 'Abbas urged them to continue opposing the "invasions" of Al-Aqsa and to prevent the Israelis from dividing it:

"The Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher are ours. They are all ours, and they [the Israelis] have no right to defile them with their filthy feet. We shall not allow them to do so, and we shall do whatever we can to protect Jerusalem. We are in Jerusalem and will remain there. We will defend the places sacred to Christianity and Islam and will not abandon our city. We will continue to cleave to every inch of its soil and do everything to make its voice heard. I am confident that no harm will come to Jerusalem, even though Israel is waging a war of extermination against it. We will continue defending it under any circumstance. We are talking with everyone, and everyone is asking what we are doing to make [Jerusalem's] voice heard."[2]

'Abbas: Israel Is Executing Palestinians, Including Children, In Cold Blood

Another false accusation invoked by 'Abbas in his speech, and which has recently become a prominent part of the Palestinian narrative, is that Israel is executing Palestinians, including children, on the pretext that they attempted to stab Jews. As an example he cited the case of Ahmad Manasra, the 13-year-old boy who, on October 12, stabbed and critically wounded an Israeli boy his own age in the Pisgat Zeev neighborhood of Jerusalem, although Manasra is only moderately wounded and is hospitalized in Israel. 'Abbas said: "We have told the entire world from the U.N. stage that in no way will we accept the existing situation in occupied Palestine, nor will we surrender to the logic of oppressive force and to the policy of occupation and aggression adopted by the Israeli government and its settler herds, who are using terror against our people, our holy places, our homes and  our trees and are executing our children in cold blood, just as they did to the boy Ahmad Manasra and to other children in Jerusalem and elsewhere."

Abbas stated further that the PA would sue Israel for the executions at the International Criminal Court: "We will file new suits over the execution of our sons, daughters and grandchildren. Whoever fears international law and its penalties should desist from committing crimes against our people."[3]

The claim about the Israeli executions was echoed by Palestinian chief negotiator and PLO Executive Committee secretary Saeb Erekat, who said at a press conference that Israel was executing Palestinians, while ignoring the fact that they were killed while stabbing or attempting to stab Israelis. He said: "We demand that  the [U.N.] special rapporteur on human rights Christof Heyns arrive immediately and investigate the field executionsÔǪ According to the directive of President ['Abbas], we decided to collect information in order to submit three lawsuits, against Prime Minister Netanyahu, his defense minister and the heads of the Israeli security forces."[4]

'Abbas: The Martyrs' Blood Is The Price Of Freedom; The Palestinian Struggle Has Gained Attention, Earned Respect Of The Entire World

In his speech 'Abbas called to continue the "popular resistance" and congratulated Jerusalem and the martyrs, stating that the events are the result of Israel's rejection of the hand extended in peace and the continued construction in the settlements: "O heroic Palestinians, in your struggle and steadfastness you have gained considerable victories and political achievements, and thanks to this wondrous steadfastness the Palestinian cause has gained the attention and earned the respect of the entire world. True, we have paid for it in the blood of our martyrs and wounded, in the tears of our mothers and the torment of our prisoners, but that is the price of freedom, which is now very close.

"[I] congratulate you, our glorious people, as well as proud Jerusalem and its residents who stand on the front line; [I] congratulate Gaza, the West Bank and our people in the diaspora. Victory will come, with Allah's help We will persist in our legitimate national struggle, which focuses on our right to defend ourselves, the nonviolent popular resistance and the diplomatic and legal struggle, and we will act with the required patience, wisdom and valor to defend our people and its diplomatic and national achievements, which were attained following decades of struggle and persistence and via the long road of the martyrs, wounded and prisoners.

"The instability and insecurity result from the Israeli government's rejection of our hand that is extended in [a bid for] a just peace that will guarantee the rights of our people, its freedom and its national honor. [They result from Israel's] stubborn persistence in building in the settlements and imposing dictates [upon the Palestinians]. Peace, security and stability will only be achieved if the Israeli occupation ends and an independent Palestinian state is established, with holy Jerusalem as its capital, in the June 4, 1967 boundaries.

"Members of the glorious Palestinian people, wherever you are, I call upon you to rally together and unite, and be alert to the occupation's schemes that are designed to torpedo our national enterprise. We will never be deterred from defending our people and protecting them. That is our right. [I] congratulate the martyrs, the wounded and the prisoners."[5]

Senior Fatah Officials Praise The Terrorists, Encourage Continued "Popular Resistance"

Saeb Erekat praised Fadi 'Aloun, who carried out an October 4, 2015 stabbing in Jerusalem, as well as  Muhannad Al-Halabi, who stabbed two Israelis to death in Jerusalem's old city the same day. He also listed the names of "martyrs," most of whom perpetrated terror attacks, while emphasizing their young age. He added: "The Israeli method vis-a-vis the Palestinian people is [carrying out] field executionsÔǪ Israel kills civilians and children and imposes collective punishments."[6]

Other senior Fatah officials justified the violence and/or encouraged its continuation. In an interview with the Amad press agency, Fatah Central Committee member and former West Bank General Intelligence head Tawfiq Al-Tirawi said that the Palestinian people had the right to defend itself and to resist in order to secure its future, for popular resistance was one of the methods of resistance.[7]

Fatah Central Committee member 'Azzam Al-Ahmad said: "We must continue the national awakening, for diplomatic activity without popular resistance is valueless. The time has arrived to expand the circle of [those] joining the popular resistance, and all of us have to participate in the struggle, each according to his ability."[8]

Fatah Central Committee member 'Abbas Zaki told the Turkish news agency Anadolu: "Armed struggle against the occupation is a legitimate right that we will not relinquish. However, this [activity] requires unity among all the Palestinian factions and establishing a central war room and formulating plans so that the armed struggle exacts a steep price from the enemy while [also] benefiting the Palestinian people. We reserve the right to [engage in] armed struggle, which is an option we will not give up, but we must consider how and when to carry it out, and whether the climate is right to use it to our benefit. At present we support [waging] a popular intifada that will confound the enemy and paralyze his security and economy, and prompt the world to address the question of how to end the world's last remaining occupation.

"Deciding on an armed struggle now will [only] serve the enemy, who has the military power to kill [us] on a daily basis. Today we are defending ourselves, and we will continue to do so. We do not want escalation, but the enemy is attacking and destroying our cities and villages. [The means] of self-defense differ from one Palestinian to the other, some of us use stones and others knives."[9]

Overt And Covert Threats To Escalate The Violence

In addition to congratulating the perpetrators of the stabbings and calling to continue the violence, members of the Fatah Central Committee even called to intensify it. 'Azzam Al-Ahmad stated that, if Israel continued its "crimes" against the Palestinians, events would spiral out of control, and added: "There is a resemblance between the Israeli forces and the ISIS terror organization."[10]

An October 13 announcement issued by the Al-Aqsa Brigades welcomed the attacks and called to "escalate them on the ground against the Israeli occupation that has made everything permitted, including killing women, children and the elderly in cold blood... The response will be painful and shocking, and we will act to light a fire under the filthy feet of the Zionists."[11]


Image on Al-Aqsa Brigades website shows knife cleaving a Star of David, with the caption: "Palestinian, stand up and resist, and never relinquish your right" (, October 13, 2015)



*C. Jacob is a research fellow at MEMRI.


[1] Al-Ayyam (PA), October 15, 2015.

[3] Al-Ayyam (PA), October 15, 2015.

[4], October 13, 2015.

[5] Al-Ayyam (PA), October 15, 2015.

[6], October 13, 2015.

[7], October 13, 2015.

[8], October 13, 2015.

[9], October 9, 2015.

[10], October 13, 2015.

[11], October 13, 2015.

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