So far, the Palestinian Authority (PA) has not condemned the June 16, 2017 attack at Damascus Gate in which Israeli Border Police officer Hadas Malka was stabbed to death and four other Israelis were wounded. The PA dailies have focused on reporting on the measures Israel has taken against Palestinians following the attack, and on depicting the presence of the Israeli security forces at the Al-Aqsa mosque plaza as terrorism. It should be noted that it is not clear which organizations the attackers were affiliated with. Both the Islamic State (ISIS) and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) have claimed responsibility for the attack in their respective media. Fatah, for its part, condemned the deaths of the three attackers, while completely ignoring the circumstances of the attack, and published bereavement notices for the perpetrators on its official Facebook accounts. A Fatah Deir Abu Mash'al Facebook post claims that the terrorist, Osama Ahmad 'Atta, belonged to Fatah. Similarly, the official Fatah website even published a clarification from 'Atta's relatives, saying that he belonged to Fatah.
The following is a review of the reactions to the attack from the Palestinian Authority and Fatah:
Headline in the PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida: Martyrdom Of Three Young Men And The Death Of A Female Soldier Of The Occupation
The day after the attack, the front-page headline of the PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida read: "Martyrdom Of Three Young Men And The Death Of A Female Soldier Of The Occupation – Deir Abu Mash'al Under Tight Siege." The sub-headline read: "Fatah condemns the crime of the Occupation and demands international protection for our people." The report itself stated that the PA Health Ministry had announced that three young men were martyred when they were shot by the Occupation forces at Damascus Gate, Jerusalem.
Front page of Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (PA, June 17, 2017)
Fatah Condemns Occupation For Killing Of The Three Attackers – With No Mention Of The Circumstances
In an official announcement, Fatah condemned the killing of the attackers, without noting that they were killed while carrying out an attack: "Fatah condemns the acts of the Occupation, which murdered three young men in Jerusalem." Fatah called on the international community "to provide protection for the unarmed Palestinians," in the face of Israeli actions which, it says, lead to escalation of the situation.
Fatah Jerusalem official Ra'fat 'Alian criticized Israel for measures it took after the attack – mainly a tightening of restrictions in East Jerusalem neighborhoods, especially in the area around Damascus Gate – and mourned the three "martyrs" on Fatah's behalf, saying: "The Fatah movement will remain loyal to the blood of the martyrs, the wounded, and the prisoners in the Israeli prisons, until the dawn of freedom breaks and a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital is established."
Bereavement notices were posted on the Fatah Deir Abu Mash'al Facebook page, one of which claimed attacker Osama Ahmad 'Atta as one of its members: "The Fatah movement in Deir Abu Mash'al in the Ramallah and Al-Birah region mourns, with great pride, its martyr hero Osama Ahmad 'Attah... perpetrator of the heroic operation at Bab Al-'Amoud [Damascus Gate]..."
Post of bereavement notice on the Fatah Deir Abu Mash'al Facebook page (Facebook.com/12407401792744831, June 17, 2017)
Another post on the page was a bereavement notice mourning all three attackers:
Post of a bereavement notice mourning the three attackers (Facebook.com/12407401792744831, June 17, 2017)
Clarification On Fatah Facebook Page: One Of The Attackers Is A Fatah Member
In addition, the Fatah Facebook page posted a notice from relatives of Osama 'Atta saying that although the family honored all the delegations that had come to pay tribute following 'Atta's killing – including PFLP representatives who claimed that he was one of that group's members – "we informed them that our martyr son Osama is a Fatah member."
The announcement on Fatah's Facebook page. (Facebook.com/officialfateh1965, June 19, 2017)
Palestinian Columnist: The Attackers Were Not ISIS Operatives
Al-Hayat Al-Jadida columnist Omar Al-Ghoul, formerly advisor to the previous PA Prime Minister, Salam Fayyad, claimed that "ISIS had no connection to the two stabbing operations in Jerusalem." He added that the name of ISIS had been insinuated into the description of the attack, but that only Israel had an interest in attributing the attack to ISIS in order to incite opinion in the world, and particularly in the U.S., against the PA, in order "to prove that there is no security on its soil, and that if Israel withdraws from the territory of the Palestinian state it will become a base for takfiri [jihadi] groups."
In this context, Hamas political bureau member 'Izzat Al-Rishq denied that there was any connection between the attackers and ISIS, and clarified that two of the attackers had belonged to the PFLP and one to Hamas. It is the Occupation, he wrote, that is behind the linking of ISIS to the attack – and the attack was carried out at the initiative of a few individuals and in reaction to the crimes of the Occupation and the profaning of Al-Aqsa.