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memri
April 2, 2019 No.
7980

Palestinian Authority, Fatah Continue Official Support And Encouragement Of Armed Struggle Against Israel

Despite their claims to have stopped officially encouraging and supporting the armed struggle against Israel,[1] the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the Fatah movement are in fact persisting in this activity.[2] This is manifested in continued payments to the families of terrorists who have been killed and to imprisoned and released terrorists – even at the cost of salary cuts for PA employees – and in declarations by PA and Fatah officials that the payments will not stop under any circumstances. The PA and Fatah also continue providing moral support to prisoners, released prisoners and the families of martyrs by meeting with them, holding events in their honor and making statements that praise and glorify their actions. Fatah's official Facebook page, as well as pages associated with the movement, continue to post messages and images praising armed activity against Israel, and calling to continue it.

This report presents examples from the recent months of the PA and Fatah's ongoing official support of the armed struggle.

The PA And Fatah, Headed By 'Abbas: We Are Committed To Continuing Payments To The Prisoners And Martyrs' Families

PA officials, headed by Palestinian President Mahmoud 'Abbas, repeatedly stress their commitment to maintaining the payments to the prisoners and the martyrs' families at the current level, even at the cost of cutting other expenditures. On February 20, 2019, 'Abbas declared that he would refuse to receive the tax funds that Israel collects on the PA's behalf if Israel deducted the sums paid to Palestinian attackers and their families. He added that any sum the PA would manage to collect would be allocated first of all to the prisoners and the martyrs' families, and only later to other needs, because "the martyrs, the prisoners and the wounded are the noblest and most honorable" of all Palestinians.[3]

In December, 2018, Fatah Central Committee secretary Jibril Rajoub said that "Fatah, headed by Mahmoud 'Abbas, regards the issue of the prisoners, their release and the care [extended to] them and their families as a national responsibility and a sacred duty that is not subject to negotiation and cannot be relinquished... The mighty prisoner movement will continue to be the spearhead of the Palestinian national struggle, as it has always been..."[4]

Fatah Spokesman Osama Al-Qawasmeh said in a similar vein: "The prisoners are a candle lighting our way, our crowning glory, and emblem of our courage and honor... Even if we had [only] a single dollar [left], we would pay it to the families of the martyrs and prisoners."[5]  

Qadri Abu Bakr, head of the Commission for Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs, likewise stressed that "the position of the Palestinian leadership is open and clear to the entire world: We will not abandon the families of these fighters, and this is not a matter for bargaining or blackmail. We oppose defining the fighters – the prisoners, martyrs and wounded – as terrorists and criminals."[6]

In early March, after Israel announced it had deducted from the tax revenues it transfers to the PA the sum paid to the prisoners and the martyrs' families, Palestinian Finance Minister Shukri Bishara announced that the PA was putting an emergency budget in place, as part of which government employees would receive only half their pay, but promised that the payments to prisoners and martyrs' families would not be cut.[7] PA Civil Affairs Minister and Fatah Central Committee member Hussein Al-Sheikh tweeted that, according to 'Abbas's instructions, this issue would always be a top priority.[8]  


Hussein Al-Sheikh's tweet

PA, Fatah Events In Honor Of Terrorists

The PA and Fatah continue meeting with released prisoners and their families and holding events in honor of prisoners, released prisoners and martyrs. It should be noted that, in the case of martyrs, the PA and Fatah often convey a conflicting message: on the one hand presenting them as innocent civilians that were executed by Israel in cold blood for no reason, and on the other hand celebrating them as heroes who courageously risked their lives in resisting the occupation.[9] The following are examples of events in honor of terrorists:

'Abbas, Fatah Officials Honor Imprisoned Terrorists Karim And Maher Younis

On November 18, 2018, 'Abbas met in his office in Ramallah with the mother and brother of Karim Younis, who is serving a 40-year prison sentence in Israel and was elected in 2017 to Fatah's Central Committee. Younis, honored as "the eldest of the prisoners," was convicted along with his cousin Maher of abducting and murdering an Israeli soldier in 1980. In the meeting 'Abbas reiterated that the issue of the prisoners is a top priority for the Palestinian leadership, which is working diligently vis-à-vis the international community to secure their release from the prisons of the Israeli occupation so they can take part in building the independent Palestinian state.[10]  It should be noted that this is not the first time 'Abbas has honored terrorists convicted of murdering Israelis, and also not the first time the PA and Fatah have honored Karim and Maher Younis, specifically.[11]    

'Abbas with Karim Younis's mother (Image: Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, November 19, 2019)

Fatah Spokesman On Terrorist Who Abducted And Killed Israeli Soldier: "A Great National Leader, A Peerless Role Model"

As they entered the 37th year of their jail sentence, Karim and Maher Younis were feted and praised by the PA and Fatah.  Fatah spokesman 'Atef Abu Saif issued a statement in which he said: "The heroic deeds of the prisoner movement were and will continue to be an inspiration that illuminates the path of our national struggle. Karim Younis is the son of Palestine and the son of the Fatah movement, a great national leader who over the years has served as a peerless role model..."[12]

As part of Fatah's anniversary celebrations, a fire inscription was lit in 'Ara village, opposite Karim Younis's home, saying "We will not back down even if it costs us our lives."[13] On January 19, the PA's Tulkarm governorate held a rally in solidarity with Maher Younis, sponsored by President 'Abbas. Fatah Deputy Chairman Mahmoud Al-'Aloul congratulated Younis and his family on behalf of 'Abbas and the Palestinian leadership. He also noted that Fatah Central Committee member Tawfiq Al-Tirawi had informed him that Al-Istiqlal University in Jericho had decided to award Maher Younis an honorary degree in military science "in appreciation of his role and his sacrifice." Al-'Aloul added that "the sacrifice of the prisoners is among the greatest of sacrifices, for they gave up their freedom to ensure the freedom of their people and homeland, and therefore they dwell in our people's heart..." Qadoura Fares, head of the Prisoners Club, said that "the prisoners are one of the symbols of the war, struggle, resistance, persistence and courage, which are the values of the Palestinian revolution."[14]
Fatah Official: The Palestinian Prisoners Are Among The Best Of Fatah's Sons

On January 5, 2019, a Fatah delegation visited the family of Mahmoud and Nasser Abu Srour, who were sentenced to life in prison for the murder of an Israeli General Security Service officer in 1993. During the visit, which marked the anniversary of their imprisonment, the secretary of Fatah's Bethlehem branch, Muhammad Al-Masri, awarded the family with certificates of honor "in appreciation of its steadfast endurance of the absence of [these] two national commanders," and conveyed Fatah's gratitude to "the best of its sons" who are imprisoned in Israel. He said that "Fatah members make up the majority of the prisoners, which proves that the movement was, is, and will remain the backbone of the Palestinian revolution, despite all the conspiracies... and will continue on the path of struggle trodden by Mahmoud and Nasser [Abu Srour] until its national goals are achieved."[15]


Fatah's Bethlehem branch secretary Muhammad Al-Masri at the Abu Srour family home (image: Facebook.com/iqlimfateh, January 5, 2019)

Fatah Event In Honor Of Released Prisoners Who Organized The "Karine A" Arms Ship

On January 9, 2019, the Detainees Commission, the Prisoners Club, the PA's Ramallah-Al-Bireh governorate and the High Council for Prisoners Affairs held an event in honor of released prisoners Riad Al-Qasrawi and Ahmad Kharis, who were involved in organizing the "Karine A" arms ship during the Second Intifada. The head of the Detainees Commission, Qadri Abu Bakr, conveyed the Palestinian people's appreciation for "the fighters who risked their lives on the 'Karine A,' which in 2002 made its way towards Palestine under the leadership of Fatah and the Palestinian security apparatuses and under the direct oversight of the eternal leader Yasser Arafat." Fatah Central Committee member 'Abbas Zaki added: "The prisoners movement is the loyal army of Palestine, which buys the freedom of the homeland and the people with its life..."[16] On January 10, Fatah's branch in Qalqilya, the Detainees Commission and the Prisoners Club held another event in honor of Riad Al-Qasrawi, at which Fatah's secretary in Qalqilya, Mahmoud Walwil, said that Fatah had "sacrificed thousands of martyrs and prisoners, and it pledges to continue defying and undermining the ambitions of the Israeli occupation to rule the Palestinian lands."[17]


Detainees Commission head Qadri Abu Bakr (right) and Fatah Central Committee member Jamal Al-Muhaisen (center) award a certificate of honor to released prisoner Riad Al-Qasrawi (left) (image: Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, PA, January 10, 2019)

PA Awards Honorary Law Degrees To Family Of Terrorist

Also on January 10, Detainees Commission head Qadri Abu Bakr awarded honorary law degrees on behalf of the Al-Najah National University in Nablus to the family members of 'Azmi Nafa', who injured four Israeli soldiers in a car-ramming attack in November 2015. Abu Bakr said at the ceremony that "the will of the prisoners has overcome all the occupation's measures [intended] to undermine their determination and kill their ambitions by means of legal sanctions and limitations imposed on them in all areas of life, chiefly by [declaring] war on their [academic] studies..."[18]

Fatah Memorial For Terrorists Who Shot An Israeli: "Martyrs, Heroes And Leaders"

On January 22, Fatah's branch in Jenin and the organization's military wing, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, held a memorial for Ahmad Nasr and Ahmad Isma'il Jarar, who shot an Israeli civilian to death one year earlier, and for Samir Abu 'Obeid, who was killed during the IDF operation to detain them. The notice announcing the memorial, posted on the Facebook page of Fatah's spokesman in Jenin, Firas Abu Al-Wafa, described the three as "martyrs, heroes and leaders."[19]


Notice announcing the memorial for Nasr and Ahmad Isma'il Jarar

Speaking at the memorial, Jenin Governor Akram Al-Rajoub condemned "the world's silence over the crimes of the occupation and its settlers" and demanded "international protection for our unarmed people who are exposed to killings and arrests on a daily basis." He stressed that "the crimes of the occupation and the terrorism of the settlers will not intimidate our people, who will continue on the martyrs' path of resistance until our national goals are met, first and foremost the release of the prisoners..."[20]

Event For Perpetrator Of Attempted Stabbing: The Martyrs Are A Source Of Inspiration And A Beacon For The Future Generations

On February 10, the Salfit governorate and the local Fatah branch held a memorial for Elias Saleh Yasin, who was killed on October 15, 2018 while attempting to carry out a stabbing attack. Detainees Commission head Qadri Abu Bakr said at the memorial that "the memory of the martyrs will continue to live and be present in the memory of the [future] generations and will live forever in their hearts. The martyrs will always be a source of inspiration, heroism and honor and a beacon for the future generations..."[21]

Fatah Facebook Page Praises Terrorists, Encourages Armed Struggle

Facebook pages associated with Fatah, as well as the movement's official page, continue to post content encouraging armed struggle, such as praise for attacks and their perpetrators.[22] The following are examples:

Posts Praising Terrorists Who Killed Israelis

Fatah's Facebook page posts numerous messages and banners in praise of terrorists who carried out attacks,  such as a post glorifying Hamas operative Ahmad Nasr Jarar, commander of the cell that shot an Israeli civilian in January 2018 and was killed one month later during the attempt to capture him. The post said: "The martyr is a star guiding the footsteps of the wanderer, the candle that burns while illuminating the path to freedom. The martyrs are the noble jewels in [our] crown. They are ideal role models of humanity and of love of life and of the land."[23] Similar posts were published in honor of other terrorists, such as Ahmad Sanaqra, a member of Fatah's military wing in Nablus who was involved in shootings and suicide operations,[24] and Raed Al-Karami, a military commander in Tulkarm who was responsible for multiple attacks in which dozens of Israelis were killed.[25] 


Posts on Fatah's official Facebook page commemorating Ahmad Nasr Jarar (left) and Ahmad Sanaqra (right) (Facebook.com/officialfateh1965, February 6, 2019, January 17, 2019)

Another post glorified Yahya 'Ayyash, known as "the Engineer," a founder of the Fatah's military wing and one of the initiators of the suicide operation strategy.[26]


Post on Fatah's Facebook page commemorating Yahya 'Ayyash

In addition, Fatah's Facebook pages glorify attacks, such as the one on the Savoy Hotel in 1975 in Tel Aviv[27]  and the 1988 bus hijacking in which three Israeli civilians were killed.[28] 


Post commemorating the 1975 "self-sacrifice operation at the Savoy Hotel – a high-quality operation by Fatah's military wing, [then called] the Al-'Asifa Forces" (Facebook.com/officialfateh1965, March 6, 2019)

Posts Encouraging Armed Operations And Martyrdom

Many posts encourage armed operations and the readiness to sacrifice one's life in them.


Banners on Fatah Facebook page: Left: "[Israel] will vanish and Jerusalem will endure"; Right: "We will redeem Jerusalem with our blood" (Facebook.com/officialfateh1965, March 14, 2019, March 12, 2019)

On the occasion of Fatah's 54th anniversary, its Facebook page posted messages glorifying its military wing and posters featuring armed fighters.


Posts celebrating Fatah's anniversary feature armed operatives (Facebook.com/officialfateh1965, December 31, 2018, December 28, 2018)

Fatah Official On Terrorist Who Was Involved In Deadly Attack In Jerusalem Restaurant: "She Is A Fighter For Her People's Freedom"

On March 12, 2019, Mounir Al-Jaghoub, the spokesman of Fatah's Recruitment and Organization Committee and moderator of Fatah's official Facebook page, praised Ahlam Al-Tamimi, a Palestinian-Jordanian terrorist who was involved in the August 2001 suicide bomb attack at the Sbarro pizza restaurant in Jerusalem that killed 15 people, including two U.S. nationals, [29] and who is on a U.S. wanted list. Responding to a tweet by U.S. President Donald Trump's advisor Jason Greenblatt, who noted that Al-Tamimi is free despite her involvement in the cold-blooded murder of 15 people, Al-Jaghoub posted on his personal Facebook page that Al-Tamimi is a fighter for the freedom of her people. He wrote: "The U.S. has decided to persecute the released prisoner Ahlam Al-Tamimi and Hamas official Saleh Al-'Arouri [deputy to Hamas Political Bureau head Isma'il Haniya]…  I say that it is the Israeli occupation that should be persecuted, as well as those who support it with funds and weapons. As for Ahlam [Al-Tamimi] and [Saleh] Al-'Arouri, they are fighters for the freedom of their people and the removal of the occupation from their land. That is their natural right and the right of all our people, from all factions and sectors."[30] One week earlier, Al-Jaghoub wrote in praise of Bassel Al-A'raj, who headed a terror cell that planned attacks against Israel and was killed during the operation to capture him.[31]

Al-Jaghoub's Facebook post on Ahlam Al-Tamimi

 

 

[1] See e.g., statements by Palestinian President Mahmoud 'Abbas on wafa.ps, March 23, 2019.

[2] Some Palestinian officials have admitted this, such as 'Ata Abu Rmeila, secretary of Fatah's branch in Jenin, who said on February 17, 2019, while brandishing a rifle, that Fatah was continuing on the path of armed struggle. See MEMRI TV Clip No. 7022, Fatah Secretary in Jenin 'Ata Abu Rmeila Brandishes Assault Rifle, Says: This Gun Will Never Drop from Our Hands; We Pledge to Continue on Path of Armed Struggle, February 17, 2019.

[3] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (PA), February 21, 2019.

[4] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (PA), December 4, 2018.

[5] Palsawa.com, February 2, 2019.

[6] Alwatanvoice.com, February 4, 2019.

[7] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (PA), March 11, 2019.

[8]  Twitter.com/HusseinSheikhpl, March 3, 2019.

[10] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (PA), November 19, 2018.

[12] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (PA), December 6, 2018.

[13] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (PA), January 7, 2019.

[14] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (PA), January 20, 2019.

[15] Facebook.com/iqlimfateh, pnn.ps, January 5, 2019.

[16] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (PA), January 10, 2019.

[17] Wafa.ps, January 10, 2019.

[18] Wafa.ps, January 10, 2019. Several years ago, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu announced that Palestinian prisoners would no longer be allowed to pursue academic degrees in prison.

[19] Facebook.com/firas.aboalwfa, January 21, 2019.

[20] Fatehorg.ps, January 22, 2019.

[21] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (PA), February 11, 2019.

[23] Facebook.com/officialfateh1965, February 6, 2019.

[24] Facebook.com/officialfateh1965, January 17, 2019. The post was later removed from the page.

[25] Facebook.com/officialfateh1965, January 13, 2019.

[26] Facebook.com/officialfateh1965, January 5, 2019. The post was later removed from the page.

[27] Facebook.com/officialfateh1965, March 6, 2019.

[28] Facebook.com/fateh.salfeet, March 7, 2019.

[30] Facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004559626345, March 12, 2019.

[31] Facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004559626345, March 6, 2019.