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memri
July 3, 2017 No.
6989

Palestinian Struggle To Commemorate Mastermind Of 1974 Deadly Attack On Israeli Schoolchildren

The Palestinian Authority's [PA] efforts to cultivate the legacy of armed resistance to Israel and glorify the prisoners and martyrs finds expression, inter alia, in the commemoration of figures, especially PLO members, who carried out attacks against Israelis, including civilians. The PA commemorates the perpetrators of attacks by holding events and erecting monuments in their honor, and naming public facilities and city squares after them.

Recently the Jenin municipality inaugurated a square and monument honoring Khaled Nazzal, who was head of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestinian (DFLP) and masterminded brutal attacks, the deadliest of which was the 1974 massacre in Maalot, in which 27 Israelis, most of them schoolchildren, were killed. One week after the monument's inauguration, following pressures from the U.S. and Israel, the Jenin municipality removed the monument, but Fatah activists later restored it. After the IDF destroyed it, Jenin activists built a similar monument in another part of the city, which was also destroyed by the IDF. Another monument for Nazzal was built in Ramallah, and has not been destroyed.

The DFLP, which is part of the PLO, condemned the demands to remove the monument, and charged Palestinian President Mahmoud 'Abbas "not to succumb to the dictates of the occupation government, especially when it comes to the martyrs, the prisoners and the wounded." Fatah's Jenin branch, whose members rebuilt the monument after the Jenin municipality removed it, said in a statement that the martyrs are "a red line that must not be crossed." Condemnations were also voiced by Palestinian officials and writers, including Nazzal's widow, who stressed the importance of commemorating Nazzal and other martyrs. This report deals with Palestinian commemoration of terrorists, focusing on the case of Khaled Nazzal.

PA Representatives Attend Ceremony For Inaugurating Khaled Nazzal Square And Monument In Jenin

On June 15, 2017, the Jenin municipality and the PDFP held a ceremony, attended by PA representatives, to inaugurate a square and a monument in honor of Khaled Nazzal in the city. Jenin deputy governor Kamal Abu Al-Rub stressed "the national and leading role of the martyr Khaled Nazzal." Jenin deputy mayor Mahmoud Abu Mweis said at the ceremony, "Today we are consolidating the legacy of the martyr Nazzal... The souls of the martyrs float above us [here] in Palestine... Our leadership and people are loyal to the path of the martyrs."[1]


Inaugeration of square and monument in memory of Khaled Nazzal in Jenin (image: wafa.ps, June 15, 2017)

Monument Removed Following Israeli Ultimatum

One week later, following pressure from Israel and the U.S. that culminated in an Israeli ultimatum demanding that the PA remove the monument, otherwise the IDF would bulldoze the entire square, the Jenin municipality indeed dismantled the monument. However, Jenin Mayor Muhammad Abu Ghali clarified that the square would continue to be named after Nazzal, adding: "The martyrs are never destroyed. Like the phoenix they rise from their ashes, on their memorial day, or else in the form of a street or square bearing their name. This is the best evidence that they are enshrined in the hearts of their [Palestinian] people and not only in the hearts of their family members."[2]

DFLP: The Removal Of The Monument – An Act Of Capitulation By Jenin Municipality And Disloyalty To The Martyrs

The Jenin branch of the DFLP condemned the municipality's decision as capitulation to Israeli pressure and "total disregard for [our] loyalty to the blood of the martyrs and for their sacrifice." It added: "The fighting [Palestinian] people will never renounce [its] national history or its martyrs and prisoners, who attained glory and, through their sacrifice, forced the world to recognize the Palestinian people and its right to self-determination." The DFLP demanded that the PA, headed by President Mahmoud 'Abbas, "not succumb to the dictates of the occupation government, especially when it comes to the martyrs, the prisoners and the wounded," and return the monument to its place. It stated further: "Capitulation to such dictates gives the occupation an appetite for further pressure. Today it's the monument for the martyr Khaled Nazzal, and tomorrow it will be the mausoleum of the martyr Abu 'Ammar [Yasser Arafat], George Habbash Square in Ramallah, Dalal Al-Mughrabi, the facilities named after Khalil Al-Wazir, and so on."[3]

The DFLP's military branch, the National Resistance Brigades, used stronger language. In a press release, it called the removal of the monument "a betrayal of the blood of the martyrs who sacrificed their lives for Palestine," and added: "[The Brigades] will never allow actions like these, which erase the history of the martyrs and the honorable leaders of our people."[4]


DFLP press release, as posted on movement's Facebook page

The Palestinian news agency Maan published an article by DFLP information chief Fathi Kulaib, which said: "[Israeli Prime Minister] Netanyahu thought that, by removing the monument, he would remove the martyr from the memories and hearts of a people that knows the meaning of martyrdom and sacrifice and sanctifies them because of the sanctity and noble character of the goals for which the sacrifice was made – [goals] that still live on in the collective memory of a people that continues on the path of the martyrs. If the negotiations and [the issue of] a political settlement [with Israel], and the game of [vying for] seats divided the Palestinian people, then martyrdom and the martyrs are a common denominator that unites them all.

"If the monument of a martyr infuriated the enemies' prime minister so much that he posted two tweets calling for its removal, then the simple response of the progressive [Palestinian] patriots, who zealously [guard] the name, reputation and legacy of the martyrs, is to transform the monuments [honoring] Nazzal and all the martyrs into beacons adorning the entrances to all our cities, villages and refugee camps, inside and outside Palestine. If the name and the image of Nazzal and all the [other] martyrs have such an effect on the leaders of the occupation, our duty, at the very least, is to place Nazzal's name and image at the head of all our social media sites, and this is something we can all do. We must all act under a single heading: 'We are all Nazzal; the occupation and settlements must disappear.'"[5]

Monument Restored After Fatah Intervention, And Removed By IDF

On June 24, two days after the removal of the monument and following intervention by the Fatah branch in Jenin, the monument was re-erected, with the consent of the mayor. The Fatah statement read: "We, the Jenin [branch of the] Fatah movement... stress our complete refusal to accept the Israeli threats to remove [the monument] from the square... Our martyrs are a red line that must not be crossed..."[6] DFLP official Taysir Khaled thanked Fatah in Jenin for "their role in restoring the monument to its place in Khaled Nazzal Square in Jenin" and for the statement they had issued.[7]

The next day, 'Omar Hilmi Al-Ghoul, a columnist for the PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, who was an advisor to former PA prime minister Salam Fayyad, wrote that Palestinian martyrs like Khaled Nazzal are "glorious symbols in the history of our national struggle, and are more noble and honorable than all of us... Yes, the extremist right-wing [Israeli] government can invade Jenin and any Palestinian city, but it may not invade the Palestinian narrative and harm the honor of any of the martyrs of the Arab Palestinian people..."[8]


Khaled Nazzal monument re-erected in "Khaled Nazzal Square" (alwatanvoice.com, June 24, 2017)


The square after IDF destroyed the monument (palinfo.com, June 30, 2017)

New Monument Erected In Jenin, Destroyed By IDF

On June 30, Jenin youths erected a new monument to Nazzal, on Haifa street at the entrance to the city. It was destroyed by the IDF on July 2. [9]


The second Jenin monument, on Haifa Street (palinfo.com, July 1, 2017)

Another Monument To Nazzal Built In Ramallah

On June 30, activists in Ramallah built another monument to Nazzal on Rakab street in the city, explaining that this was their response to the destruction of the (first) Jenin monument. (The explanation was also inscribed on the monument itself). [10]

Nazzal's Widow: Are We Expected To Erase The Martyrs From The Palestinian Memory?

Khaled Nazzal's widow, Rima Katana Nazzal, who is a member of the Palestinian National Council and a columnist for the PA daily Al-Ayyam, described the public opposition to the monument's removal as "a clear stance that refuses to back any political element trying to compromise on the national principles, chief among them the issues of the prisoners, the martyrs and the wounded. [This,] especially given that what is offered us in return [for compromises] is negotiations [with Israel] that have not changed much, for they has been going on for 25 years without yielding any result."

She added: "The question prevailing in the city [Jenin] is whether we are aware of the dangers we are facing. The issue is larger than the destruction of the monument for the martyr Khaled Nazzal. It is much larger than that. The destruction [of the monument] by both sides [Israel and the PA] has revived the martyrs as a sector persecuted by the occupation. Khaled was never more alive than at the moment they [Israel] planned to destroy him again [by destroying his monument]. Setting up Khaled as a target – which enhances his symbolic [status] to the highest possible level – is an [Israeli] maneuver in advance of [forcing us to] accept impossible conditions for of being worthy of the next [stage of] negotiations, amid a state of schism among the Palestinians. What is the limit when you accept impossible terms? What is the point at which we start negotiations? [After we agree to stop] the allowances for the families of the martyrs and the wounded [and to remove] the monuments, squares and streets named after martyrs? Or are [their] graves [also] among the issues up to negotiation, perhaps? Are we expected to format the memory and erase the database of the martyrs and prisoners from the Palestinian mind?"[11]

Prisoner Affairs Minister ,Issa Qaraqe': Destroying The Monument Tantamount To Assassinating All Those Still Alive On Palestinian Soil

Palestinian Prisoner Affairs Minister Issa Qaraqe' devoted an article to the topic of the monument's destruction: "On June 30, 2017, the Israeli occupation authorities destroyed the monument honoring the martyr Khaled Nazzal, who was a member of the DFLP Central committee in Jenin district. In this way it assassinated him twice – one during in his lifetime and again after his death, and it is still persecuting the Palestinian soul and its remnants…

"Destroying the monuments honoring the martyred fighter Nazzal is [tantamount to] assassinating all those still alive on Palestinian soil and persecuting every patriotic and humane person, in this world and in the world to come, as part of the Israeli incitement campaign against the Palestinian people's struggle and [the attempt to] frame it as terrorist and criminal. The destruction of the monument is not just a physical act of destruction. It extinguishes a shining and sacred Palestinian ideal. It distorts cultural values, undermines [our sense of] belonging, and destroys the Palestinian time continuum, martyr by martyr, prisoner by prisoner – [leaving] no gravesite, either in the diaspora or here [in Palestine], nor even someone to tell your story in the textbooks. The Israelis persecute Palestinians even in the school curricula, which must be a blank sheet without time or place. They do not want people walking the face of the earth, nor a home or a garden, or anyone who can remind people about a massacre here or there, someone who will sing or recite for the sake of liberty, peace and tranquility. They want to conceal the victim and bury him as if he never existed.

"The occupation authorities believe that, when they destroy the monument of the martyr Nazzal, they conceal every trace of their original crime and the crimes that followed it, shaking off [responsibility] for our blood and purging the scene of our torments and bodies, so no evidence remains that eventually [can be discovered]. The Israelis act to destroy the meanings and the human and legal aspects of the Palestinian people's struggle against occupation and for the sake of liberty, [the right of] return, and independence. They incessantly attack the prisoners' rights, the martyrs, and the assistance rendered to them and their families. They attack anyone extending condolences to the martyrs' [families] or praying for their souls. They attack the soil and expunge the name of trees, birds, rocks, springs and memories. They even attack the martyrs, and hold their bodies in special cemeteries and refrigerators. They wage a comprehensive campaign against the Palestinians' sorrow and joy. They do not want the Palestinians to see the color white except in white shrouds…"[12]

 


[1] Wafa.ps, June 15, 2017.

[2] Wattan.tv, June 23, 2017.

[3] Qudsn.ps, June 22, 2017.

[4] Facebook.com/nrb.info.office/posts/1439422846118656, June 23, 2017.

[5] Maannews.net, July 1, 2017.

[6] Karamapress.com, June 24, 2017.

[7] Amad.ps, June 24, 2017.

[8] Alhayat.ps, June 25, 2017.

[9] Hadfnews.ps, July 2, 2017.

[10] Amad.ps, July 1, 2017.

[11] Al-Ayyam (PA), June 2, 2017.

[12] Al-Quds (Jerusalem), July 3, 2017.