On December 25, 2017, Palestinian President Mahmoud 'Abbas and the head of Fatah's Bethlehem branch, Muhammad Al-Masri, met with released terrorist Rafat Al-Jawabra, a commander in Fatah's military wing, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, in Bethlehem who was responsible for a series of shootings and a suicide attack in the Jewish settlement of Efrat during the second intifada. Al-Jawabra was jailed in 2002 and was recently released after 15 years in prison. While still in prison he was elected to head the local council of the West Bank village of Al-Doha, and he is to take office soon.
'Abbas's meeting with Al-Jawabra took place some 10 days after his release. During this period Fatah held several receptions and celebrations in his honor, attended by senior movement officials, including Fatah Deputy Chairman Mahmoud Al-'Aloul and Fatah Central Committee member Jamal Muhaisen.
Palestinian President Mahmoud 'Abbas with Rafat Al-Jawabra (image: Facebook.com/officialfateh1965, December 25, 2017)
This document reports on the events held in Al-Jawabra's honor since his release and the praise lavished on him by Fatah officials and members, as published on the movement's Facebook accounts.
Fatah Deputy Chairman: Al-Jawabra Is A Leader We Are Proud Of
Fatah deputy chairman Mahmoud Al-'Aloul and Fatah Central Committee member Jamal Muhaisen arrived to congratulate Al-Jawabra upon his release. Speaking on this occasion, Al-'Aloul called him "a leader of whom we are proud," and also alluded to the latest clashes with the Israeli army and to the tension with the U.S. over its position on Jerusalem. He noted that the PA was facing much pressure in this regard, and said: "Today we said farewell to four martyrs... We [also] have many prisoners and wounded... The battle is not yet over and we may have to sacrifice more... We are proud that the entire world is afraid of the superpower called America, yet the Palestinian people is not."
Mahmoud Al-'Aloul (left) and Jamal Muhaisen (right) with Al-Jawabra (image: Facebook.com/officialfateh1965, December 16, 2017)
Al-'Aloul and Muhaisen present Al-Jawabra with a certificate of honor (image: Facebook.com/Dohafateh, December 16, 2017)
Rally In Al-Jawabra's Honor
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Later that day a rally was held in Al-Jawabra's honor, attended by hundreds of Fatah activists, including members of the Al-Aqsa Brigades, who fired in the air in celebration. Palestinian and Fatah flags were much in evidence, as were pictures of Yasser Arafat. Al-Jawabra was received with cheers, and a spokesman on behalf of the Al-Aqsa Brigades said: "We welcome you, Commander Rafat Al-Jawabra, upon your return with your head held high... The Al-Aqsa Brigades congratulate you as you resume your role as a field commander, O Rafat!"
In his own speech at the rally, Al-Jawabra mentioned the Al-Aqsa members killed during the second intifada, saying: "We renew our pact with the martyrs and tell them: your blood was not shed in vain." He added that the occupation, the prisons, the oppression and the Nakba "will only increase our faith, our strength and our resolve to continue the fight for Jerusalem... There will be no negotiations without Jerusalem and no solution without Jerusalem... We are united and the occupation is temporary." The audience responded with cries of "millions of martyrs are marching on Jerusalem."
Al-Jawabra speaking at the rally, surrounded by armed Al-Aqsa Brigades fighters (image: Facebook.com/officialfateh1965, December 16, 2017)
Rally participants carry Al-Jawabra on their shoulders (image: Facebook.com/iqlimfateh, December 15, 2017)
Rally participants applaud Al-Jawabra (Facebook.com/Dohafateh, December 16, 2017)
Other Fatah spokesmen at the rally praised Al-Jawabra and the struggle against the "Zionist enemy." A representative of Fatah's branch in Silwan, Hani Al-'Abbasi, called Al-Jawabra "the son of the Al-Aqsa Brigades, which are the jewel in the crown of the resistance." He added: "The Al-Aqsa Brigades gave the Zionist enemy a lesson in struggle and resistance, and they are the natural and legitimate heirs of Al-'Asifa, the [former] military wing of the Fatah movement, which has spearheaded the Palestinian national struggle for 53 years... In the name of Fatah in Silwan and all [other parts of] the capital Jerusalem, we congratulate the lion of Fatah, the heroic leader Rafat Al-Jawabra."
In the following days, PA and Fatah representatives continued to visit Al-Jawabra, including Fatah Central Committee member 'Abbas Zaki, the head of the Palestinian Commission for Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs, 'Issa Qaraqe', and delegations on behalf of the PA security and intelligence apparatuses.
Al-Jawabra celebrating with armed Al-Aqsa Brigades fighters (image: maannews.net, December 15, 2017)
Armed Al-Aqsa Brigades fighter marching in honor of Al-Jawabra (image: Facebook.com/Dohafateh, December 16, 2017)
Motor parade in honor of Al-Jawabra (image: Facebook.com/Dohafateh, December 17, 2017)
 Facebook.com/officialfateh1965, December 25, 2017.
 Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (PA), December 15, 2017. It should be noted that the current mayor of Hebron, Taysir Abu Sneineh, who was elected this May, is likewise a Fatah member and released prisoner who participated in the Beit Hadassah terrorist attack in 1980. Fateh-voice.net, May 15, 2017.
 Facebook.com/Dohafateh, December 16, 2017. Al-'Aloul also said recently that "the Oslo [Accord] is over" and that "all means are legitimate in opposing the occupation." Amad.ps, December 15, 2017.
 Facebook.com/iqlimfateh, December 15, 2017.
 Facebook.com/Dohafateh, December 16, 2017.
 Facebook.com/Dohafateh, December 17, 18, 22, 2017.