September 5, 2023 Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 1715

Palestinian Authority Media Present Slain Terrorists As Innocent Children Murdered In Cold Blood

September 5, 2023 | By S. Schneidmann*
Palestinians | Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 1715

In reporting about young Palestinians who were involved in terror activity against Israel and were killed by the Israeli security forces, the Palestinian Authority (PA) and its media – and following them also media in the world and in Israel[1] –  often presents them as innocent children or youths who were murdered or executed in cold blood. The Palestinian media obscures the fact that they were members of terror organizations like the Lion's Den, Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) or even Fatah's own military wing, and deliberately omits any mention of the circumstances in which they were killed, namely, while carrying out armed operations against Israelis. 

These facts, which the PA media conceals, are explicitly stated in reports by the organizations to which these individuals belonged, and sometimes also in comments by their family members. Unlike the PA media, these sources stress that they were killed while carrying out attacks, and present them as jihad fighters and heroes who died in battle. Thus, while the PA media reports that an innocent child was executed by Israel in cold blood,[2] and posts photos showing a teen in civilian clothing, the terror organizations' media present the same individual as a brave jihad fighter from their ranks who was killed in action against the occupation, and post photos in which he is armed and wears a headband bearing the name of his organization. Moreover, despite presenting them as children and civilians, the PA often holds official military funerals for these slain fighters.

This report presents several examples of this phenomenon from the last few months. 

PIJ Military Wing: 'Othman Abu Kharraj Was One Of Our Boldest Fighters

'Othman Abu Kharraj (17) was killed on August 22, 2023 in the West Bank town of Al-Zababdeh, south of Jenin. The PA news agency reported the incident as the death of a child by Israeli fire, without describing the circumstances in which he was killed, and a statement by PA Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh also referred to him as a "child." PA presidency spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh went further and accused Israel of "murdering" the "boy" Abu Kharraj.[3] However, according to the IDF Spokesperson's Unit, Abu Kharraj was shot while hurling explosives at Israeli troops that had entered the town to detain wanted terrorists.[4] 

Announcements by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) confirm that Abu Kharraj was involved in military activity. Its military wing, the Al-Quds Brigades, issued a statement mourning the death of "its son, the martyred jihad fighter 'Othman 'Atef Abu Kharraj, aged 18 [sic]", who had been "one of the fighters of the Al-Quds Brigades' Deterrence Unit." The statement added that Abu Kharraj "ascended to heaven as a martyr, Allah willing, as he stood with his comrades in the Al-Quds Brigades to face the enemy forces that had invaded the town of Al-Zababdeh… We say farewell to a knight, a jihad fighter and a hero who was known as such in the arenas of confrontation and on the battlefields…"[5]  A statement by the PIJ's West Bank branch described Abu Kharraj in the same terms.[6] He was also buried with a PIJ headband. [7] 

'Othman Abu Kharraj  wearing a PIJ headband (

Graphic on website of PIJ military wing mourns "the martyred jihad fighter 'Othman Abu Kharraj, one of the fighters of the Al-Quds Brigades' Deterrence Unit" (, August 22, 2023)

A mourning notice issued by the PIJ's "Al-Zababdeh Deterrence Unit" stressed that he had been "one of the boldest jihad fighters." The notice was accompanied by footage of the incident in which he was killed, in which explosive devices were hurled at IDF forces.[8]

Screengrabs from the video posted by the PIJ's "Al-Zababdeh Deterrence Unit"

Abu Kharraj's Brother: He Excelled At Building Explosive Devices, And Used Them Against The Occupation Soldiers

'Othman Abu Kharraj's brother Mahmoud told the Hamas daily Filastin: "'Othman used to hurl pipe bombs at the [IDF's] armored vehicles, one after the other. The young men [here] use various means to confront the repeated incursions of the occupation forces… including [throwing] firebombs, stones and pipe bombs and blocking roads with burning tires. 'Othman excelled at building pipe bombs, and used them in several clashes with the occupation soldiers… Despite his youth he was brave, and always acted very mature for his age."[9]

Pipe bombs in a video in memory of Abu Kharraj (, August 7, 2023)

Hamas On Khaled Al-Za'anin: He Carried Out A "Heroic Stabbing Attack"

Khaled Al-Za'anin (15) was killed in Jerusalem on August 30, 2023. According to the Israeli police, he was killed after stabbing and wounding an Israeli civilian. In addressing the incident, PA presidency speaker Nabil Abu Rudeineh ignored the stabbing and said that Al-Za'anin had been murdered in cold blood. A statement issued by the PA Foreign Ministry likewise refrained from mentioning the stabbing and said that Al-Za'anin had been "barbarically attacked by settlers while riding on the train and had been martyred trying to defend himself."[10]

Conversely, a statement issued by Hamas declared that Al-Za'anin had carried out "a heroic stabbing operation," and the movement's spokesman for Jerusalem affairs, Muhammad Hamada, likewise described the stabbing as "a heroic act" that " demonstrates once again that our people continues to resist."[11]

Moreover, a large poster that was hung that that Friday (September 1, 2023) near the Al-Aqsa mosque, bearing Hamas logos, showed several Palestinian fighters, including Al-Za'anin, beneath the caption "This Is the War for the Liberation of Al-Aqsa."[12]

Hamas poster showing slain fighters, including Al-Za'anin

Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades On 'Izz Al-Din Kana'an: He Was A  Jihad Fighter, One Of Our Lions

On August 25, 2023, the PA news agency announced that 'Izz Al-Din Mahmoud Kana'an (20), had died from his injuries after being shot in the head by the IDF. The announcement stated that Kana'an had been shot by an Israeli sniper "while he was on his way to donate blood for victims wounded by the occupation forces in their aggression against Jenin early last month" (i.e., in the IDF operation in Jenin in early July).[13] This announcement too implies that he was an innocent civilian deliberately targeted by the IDF for no reason.

However,  elements in Fatah's military wing, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, identified  Kana'an as a member of this militia and described him as a "knight" and "jihad fighter." His funeral was attended by many armed Fatah members, and his body was wrapped in the flag of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades.[14]

The local Fatah branch to which Kana'an belonged posted an obituary for him on behalf of Fatah and its military wing, which stated: "The Palestinian national liberation movement Fatah and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades accompany to his nuptials[15] one of their great lions, the martyred hero 'Izz Al-Din Kana'an, who attained the height of glory and honor today. He was hit while defending the soil of the Jenin [refugee] camp, the camp of steadfastness, and [defending] the justness or his cause, the honor of his nation, his religion and his land…"[16]     

'Izz Al-Din Kana'an as an armed operative of Fatah's military wing (,, August 25, 2023

PA Daily: PIJ Operative Majdi 'Ar'arawi Earned "Two Shahadas With Distinction"

Majdi 'Ar'arawi (18), a member of the PIJ military wing, was killed in exchanges of fire with IDF forces during Israel's July 2023 counterterrorism operation in the Jenin refugee camp.[17] A July 21, 2023 article about him in the PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida noted that he had been an excellent student and had earned "two shahadas"[18] with distinction: his matriculation certificate and his martyrdom in a confrontation with IDF forces. The same message was conveyed by an illustration published in the paper that day, and in an editorial published the next day (August 22), all of which  ignored the fact that he was an armed PIJ operative.[19]  The PA Education Ministry posted his matriculation certificate under the title "This is his shahada, which he earned with distinction."[20]

Left: Article about Majdi 'Ar'arawi in the PA daily (Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (PA), July 21, 2023); right: photo of 'Ar'arawi on PIJ website (, July 22, 2023)

Official Military Funerals Held By PA

On February 7, 2023 the PA news agency reported that Hamza Al-Ashqar (17) had been "shot by the occupation forces during their aggression against Nablus." The news agency provided no further details about the circumstances of his death, and posted a picture of him as a civilian.[21]

Al-Ashqar in a photo posted by the PA news agency (, February 7, 2023)

Conversely, the Lion's Den militia, to which Al-Ashqar belonged, stated on its Telegram channel that he was killed during exchanges of fire with the IDF.[22]  

Al-Ashqar as an armed operative of the Lion's Den militia (left) and of the PIJ military wing (right) (,, February 7, 2023)

Moreover, although its media refrained from recognizing the military context of his death, the PA gave Al-Ashqar an official military funeral, in which his bier was carried by members of the PA National Security Service.

PA holds military funeral for Hamza Al-Ashqar (, February 7, 2023)

Another example is Mahmoud Al-'Aidi (17), who was killed on February 14, 2023. The PA's news agency reported that a "boy" had died of his wounds after being shot by IDF forces that had "invaded" the Al-Far'a refugee camp,[23] while ignoring the fact that he had been killed while attempting to hurl an explosive device at the forces. A video circulated on social media that shows Al-'Aidi running with the explosive charge in his hand. [24]  

Al-'Aidi in a photo posted by the PA news agency (, February 14, 2023)

In contrast to the reports published by the PA media, the local Fatah branch in which Al-'Aidi was active described him as a "martyred hero" and posted a picture of him carrying arms. The PA gave him a military funeral, and PA President and Fatah Chairman Mahmoud 'Abbas also phoned his father to console him.[25]  

Mourning notice issued by Fatah describes Al-'Aidi as a "martyred hero" and includes a photo of him carrying arms (, February 14, 2023)

PA holds a military funeral for Al-'Aidi (, February 14, 2023)

* S. Schneidmann is a research fellow at MEMRI.


[1] See e.g., an August 24, 2023 article about 'Othman Abu Kharraj by Shoham Smith in the Israeli daily Haaretz: "Another teen murdered. I look at his beautiful face, at the slight smile under the first traces of mustache. A nice-looking boy with a beanie hat, the kind worn by boys in my daughter's scout troop, the kind she would have called 'cute' [or] 'cool.' He could have been a friend of hers… A boy who never harmed a soul" (Haaretz, Israel, August 24, 2023). 

[2] The same rhetoric is used by PA officials, such as PM Muhammad Shtayyeh and Presidency Spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh.

[3], August 22, 2023.

[4], August 22, 2023.

[5], August 22, 2023.

[6], August 22, 2023.

[7], August 22, 2023.

[8], August 22, 2023.

[9], August 24, 2023.

[10],, August 31, 2023.

[11], August 30, 2023.

[12], September 1, 2023.

[13] Wafa.psm August 25, 2023.

[14], August 26, 2023.

[15] This is a reference to the Islamic belief that a martyr weds 72 houris in Paradise. See MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 61 - The Joy of the Mothers of Palestinian 'Martyrs' – June 27, 2001.

[16], August 25, 2023.

[17] According to an announcement by the Jenin Brigade, which belongs to the PIJ military wing, he was one of the members of the battalion's engineering unit  (, July 5, 2023).

[18] Shahada in Arabic means both "certificate" and "martyrdom."

[19] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (PA), July 21, 22, 2023.

[20], July 20, 2023. See also Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 1709 - Palestinian Authority Acts To Strengthen Its Control Of West Bank Amid Growing Power Of Terror Organizations, Fears Of Gaza-Style Coup – August 14, 2023.

[21], February 7, 2023.

[22], February 7, 2023.

[23], February 14, 2023.

[24], February 16, 2023.

[25], February 14, 15, 2023;, February 14, 2023.

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