The July 11, 2016 release of high school seniors' final exam results by the Palestinian Authority (PA) Ministry of Education is being widely covered in the Palestinian media. As part of this coverage, on July 12, PA dailies published articles on high school seniors who had been killed during the school year carrying out, or attempting to carry out, stabbing attacks against Israelis, and who thus would never graduate. The articles praised the teenagers' martyrdom, playing with the Arabic word shahada, which means both "diploma" and "martyrdom." The lead article in the PA official daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida listed 16 Palestinian students whom, it stated, had not been able to take their final exams, but had "passed the difficult [test] of dying as martyrs for the sake of the homeland" with flying colors. It added, "Dying as a martyr is the path of excellence and superiority."
The list included 16-year-old Ahmad Abu Al-Rab, who participated in the February 3 shooting and stabbing attack at Damascus Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem in which a female Israeli Border Guard was killed, and Labib 'Aazem and Muhammad Zaghlawan, both 17, who carried out the March 2 stabbing attack at Har Bracha, wounding two Israeli soldiers.
PA Dailies: '16 [Students] Successfully Passed The Difficult Test Of Dying As Martyrs For The Sake Of The Homeland'
Articles in the PA dailies praised the dead students, calling them a source of pride for their families and for the entire Palestinian people. They quoted their relatives' and friends' expressions of praise for them and yearning for them, and referred to the teen attackers as martyred by "the bullets of the occupation" while omitting mention of the attacks they had carried out.
Thus, for instance, a front-page article in Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, which also appeared on page 12, stated: "The places of 16 students was not missing from yesterday's announcement of the general high school [exam] results. This is despite the fact that the occupation's bullets ended their lives and prevented them from taking their final exams, as they became martyrs in Paradise. Sixteen [students] passed the difficult [test] of dying as martyrs for the homeland, since dying as a martyr is the path of excellence and supremacy.
"Sixteen boys and girls, seniors in high-school, died as martyrs, leaving behind friends, ambitions, and sorrow in the hearts of their families and loved ones, who had waited for this day to congratulate them. But the bullets of the criminal occupation were swifter, and denied them the opportunity to be a source of joy for their families..."
The full article in Al-Hayat Al-Jadida
The PA daily Al-Ayyam also quoted friends and relatives of some of the attackers, and, like Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, provided a selective narrative omitting mention of the attacks that they carried out or the victims of those attacks. The article opened by stating: "'Ali Zaghlawan, the brother of the martyr Muhammad Zaghlawan [who carried out the March 2, 2016 Har Bracha attack], from the village of Qariout near Nablus, who was martyred by the bullets of the occupation near the settlement of Eli on the Nablus-Ramallah road, has been waiting since morning for the publication of the high school final [exam] results, in order to congratulate his brother's friends [on their scores]. Muhammad's name should have been among them [i.e. those who received results], especially as he was known for his [scholastic] excellence and diligence..."
The article also quoted the friend of dead student Ahmad Abu Al-Rab, who had participated in the Damascus Gate attack, describing him as having been "martyred by the bullets of the occupation soldiers on the steps of Damascus Gate in Jerusalem."
Palestinian Honor Students Dedicate Their Success To Palestinian Martyrs
One notable article on the finals results, published by the Palestinian news agency WAFA, focused on honor students who said that they dedicated their success to the martyrs of the Palestinian people. Muhammad Abu Nahla, an honors student majoring in industry, dedicated his success to the martyr 'Adnan Al-Mashni, killed while attempting to carry out a stabbing attack. Abu Nahla said: "I dedicate my success to the Palestinian leadership and its head President Mahmoud 'Abbas; to the educational and pedagogical family; to my family and our people; and especially to my friend, the 17-year-old martyr 'Adnan 'Aaid Hamed Al-Mashni Al-Halaiqa, from the town of Al-Shayoukh, who was martyred at Beit 'Einun Junction east of Hebron on January 12, 2016... How I wish that he could have celebrated his success today - but the bullets of the occupation stole him, denying us and his parents of this joy. But we are all proud of the martyr's death he attained."
PLO Executive Committee member Ahmed Al-Majdalani also mentioned the martyred students, saying: "In these moments, we feel the absence of 16 students, the martyrs who should have taken the high school finals but who were prevented from taking them by the violent and aggressive occupation forces, who denied joy to their families..."