Make no mistake: The current terror wave in Israel, in which as of the time of writing four terrorists have murdered 14 people, was initiated and is being fueled by the Palestinian Authority and P.A. chairman Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party.
The P.A. and Fatah are using all their usual methods: implicit and direct calls for violence; demonization of Israel and Israelis; invoking the false claim that Israel and Israelis are planning to destroy the Al-Aqsa mosque; attacking Israeli politicians for walking in Jerusalem; and repeating sundry other libels.
As Palestinian Media Watch has already exposed, in the run-up to the Muslim month of Ramadan, the P.A. intensified its false rhetoric that Israel was seeking to escalate violence and destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Those calls were then used as a means to incite hatred and spark terror attacks.
Speaking on official P.A. television on the first day of Ramadan, P.A. Supreme Shari’ah Judge Mahmoud al-Habbash made the P.A.’s expectations of the Palestinians perfectly clear: In the same way as the Prophet Muhammad engaged in war during Ramadan, so too should Palestinians engage in “jihad.” Explaining how Muhammad embarked on the Battle of Badr and conquered Mecca during Ramadan, Habbash clarified that Ramadan is “not a month of laziness but rather … a month of Jihad, conquest, and victory.”
“How was this month [of Ramadan] in the life of Prophet [Muhammad]? … Did the Prophet spend Ramadan in calmness, serenity, laziness and sleepiness? Far be it from him. … The Prophet entered the great Battle of Badr [624 C.E.] during Ramadan … martyrs fell from among the companions of the Prophet—14 martyrs,” said al-Habbash. “The companions did not say: ‘O Prophet of Allah, now is a time of fasting and it is hot.’ … On the 17th of Ramadan he set out to Badr, and the great Battle of Badr took place,” he continued.
“Also in the month of Ramadan, in the eighth year of the Hijra [629-630 C.E.], the Prophet and the Muslims conquered Mecca. … The Prophet did not say and did not think when he decided to set out to liberate Mecca and to conquer Mecca that ‘now it’s Ramadan, people are fasting, let’s delay it to after Ramadan.’ … How can we build [our] lives and lay foundations for Islam if we are lazy, Heaven forbid? Ramadan is not a month of laziness but rather a month of activity, of effort and of hard work, and, as it also was in the life of the Prophet, a month of jihad, conquest and victory,” said Habbash.
Official P.A. daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida was even more explicit in its incitement of violence. Regular columnist Bassem Barhoum wrote on April 2:
“It is the interest of Israel, which in the eyes of the world has become a state of apartheid and ethnic cleansing, to go back to manufacturing the perception of the Palestinian ‘terrorist’ who harms civilians. It is marketing that it wants calm, but it is sending the settler herds to the Palestinian villages and to the Al-Aqsa Mosque in order to provoke the Palestinians and push them into an escalation and … uncontrolled retaliatory acts that it will use as an excuse to carry out extensive aggression against the Palestinian people….”
To thwart Israel’s alleged plan, wrote Barhoum, Palestinians have chosen the path of “popular resistance”—a Palestinian euphemism for terror attacks. The Palestinians must ”strengthen this type of resistance” to “inflict a heavy cost on the occupation,” he continued.
Completing the diatribe, the P.A. daily left no room for interpretation regarding the expectation of the Palestinians:
“What we need is a joint and agreed-upon plan, and to leave the cycle of retaliatory acts—a plan that will balance between the continuation of the civilian’s daily life, and that simultaneously the popular resistance will be an ongoing daily act with an impact on the Israeli occupation.”
Referring to Palestinians killed while carrying out terror attacks, the P.A. daily declared on April 3:
“In less than a week, seven martyrs for the sake of Palestine ascended to heaven after being shot by the forces of the occupation, who shoot to kill and for no other reason!”
Among those “killed for no reason” were terrorists shot in the act of carrying out deadly attacks and members of the internationally designated terror organization Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) killed on their way to carry out another attack.
Referring to the terrorists, the P.A. daily continued:
“We are bidding farewell to our pure-hearted martyrs, while they are ascending to the heavens. Yes, with a painful heart, but [also] with determination to stand firm, defy and continue on the paths of popular resistance until defeating the occupation and removing it from the land of our state, whose capital is East Jerusalem. … ”
Referring to Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s call for all Israelis licensed to carry firearms to do so in response to the terror wave, as a means of self-defense, the P.A. daily added:
“‘Violence will not bear results’—we will remain with this logical and objective conclusion, but will the Israeli occupation state support it? Will it do this, while currently, it is working to arm the settlers in a way that will turn it into a state of militias, according to the decision of Israeli Prime Minister [Naftali Bennett], which he declared a few days ago? How will there be an end to the violence with a state like this, which sets rifles free in the streets so they will kill as many as they can?”
In his opening speech on April 3 to the weekly Cabinet meeting, P.A. Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh warned of imaginary attempts of “Jewish extremists to violate the sanctity of Al-Aqsa Mosque,” according to official P.A. news agency WAFA. Ignoring the fact that the three terrorists killed by Israeli security forces in Jenin on April 2 were members of PIJ on their way to carry out attacks, Shtayyeh said:
“Israel considers every Palestinian who is on his land and defends his property as a ticking bomb that necessitates killing him, which is an extremely dangerous matter in light of allowing settlers to carry weapons and kill Palestinians just on the ground of suspicion.”
Al-Hayat Al-Jadida declared on April 3: “The occupation goes too far on its bloody path and assassinates three young people from southern Jenin.”
Similarly, P.A. television reported on March 31 that Nidal Ja’afreh, who was shot by a civilian while attempting to stab passengers aboard a bus near Efrat with a screwdriver, had been “executed … in cold blood.”
“First, the only certain fact as of this moment is that this was a summary execution,” said the reporter. “Today a summary execution at the hands of a settler took place. The summary execution policy has been the law and ideology of the occupation government for a number of years.”
P.A. Presidential Office Adviser on Jerusalem Affairs Ahmed al-Ruweidi took the “Israel is attacking Al-Aqsa” trope to a new level, warning on April 3 against a “massacre” of worshippers at the mosque “by the occupation and its settlers,” according to Al-Hayat Al-Jadida.
Referring to the additional forces posted in Jerusalem to prevent Palestinian terror and rioting, al-Ruweidi claimed that additional security forces coupled with “invasions of the Al-Aqsa mosque”—P.A. terminology for Jews exercising their right to visit the Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest site—are proof that Israel is trying to “escalate the situation in Jerusalem.”
Not missing an opportunity, the P.A. even used the visit of Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid to the Damascus Gate entrance to Jerusalem’s old city as an opportunity to inflame tensions.
The site of many Palestinian terror attacks, Damascus Gate is in the heart of Jerusalem. Every Israeli, and certainly a minister in Israel’s cabinet, should be able to visit the site without hindrance.
Adopting the baseless threat that Lapid’s “storming” of the Damascus Gate could lead to an “explosion” not only in Israel “but in the region as a whole,” P.A. Presidential Spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh was quoted by WAFA on April 4 as saying the visit was “irresponsible behavior”:
“The storming yesterday of Damascus Gate area in occupied East Jerusalem by Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid was irresponsible behavior, as well as army, police and settlers’ provocations, all of which could lead to an explosion not only in Palestine but in the region as a whole,” said Abu Rudeineh.
Abbas’s Fatah also joined the threats. Taking its rhetoric to new levels, Fatah warned that Lapid’s visit and the continued visits of Jews to the Temple Mount would “turn into an open religious war,” WAFA reported on April 4:
“The Fatah Movement emphasized that the Israeli occupation authorities’ wild behavior during the [Muslim fasting] month of Ramadan is systematic, planned and heralds an explosion in the situation.
“Fatah condemned the acts of aggression that the Israeli occupation authorities are committing every day in occupied Jerusalem, [Israeli] occupation Minister of Foreign Affairs Yair Lapid’s provocative break-in to the area of the Damascus Gate in occupied Jerusalem, and his promises [to enable] the Jewish extremists to break into the Al-Aqsa Mosque…
“Fatah warned against the consequences of the occupation government’s aggressive policy, which heralds an explosion in the situation and having the conflict turn into an open religious war that will collapse the international foundations of peace and security and will inflame the emotions of the Muslims worldwide.”
The P.A. Foreign Ministry was cited by WAFA on April 3 as saying that Lapid’s statements confirming the rights of Jews to enter the Temple Mount were “nothing but a denial of the fact that the Jewish extremists are the ones who are attacking the sites that are holy to Christianity and Islam and their Palestinian believers.”
Again reconfirming the fact that the P.A.’s problem with Israel is not territorial, but rather stems from the very presence of Jews in Israel and the very existence of the State of Israel, regular Al-Hayat Al-Jadida columnist Omar Hilma al-Ghould, who served as an adviser to former P.A. Prime Minister Salam Fayyad on national affairs, launched a venomous attack against “Khazar Zionist Judaism” writing on April 3 that it was “most despicable expression of racism” even from “before the establishment” of Israel”:
“I will not say anything new to the readers and followers, and not to those who know the components of the Zionist colonialist project state when I emphasize for the thousandth time that Khazar Zionist Judaism [the theory that modern Jews are descended from the Khazar people has been debunked but remains popular in anti-Semitic circles] has throughout the decades of its existence in Palestine been the most blatant symbol and most despicable expression of racism against the peoples of the Arab nation in general, and the members of the Palestinian people in particular.
“The Zionist colonialist leaderships—even from before the establishment of their Israeli state in 1948, the year of the Nakba [“the catastrophe,” the Palestinian term for the establishment of the State of Israel], and to this very day—are proving that they are deepening and strengthening their racist barbarism, and are elevating and inculcating the murder of ‘goyim’ [i.e., “non-Jews”]—the Arab Palestinian other—for no reason and only because of their national and pan-Arab affiliation and identity, or even because of their Islamic or Christian religious identity.
“One of the examples of the public declarations of murder was the statement by Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett … who sent a message to the Zionist Jews with weapon permits to carry their weapons with them at all times, in order to shoot live ammunition at Palestinians if they only suspect that any kind of resistance activity is being carried out.”
Another regular columnist simply ignored the Palestinian terrorism, preferring to claim on official P.A. television on March 29 that Palestinian violence is “always is a response to the provocation by the Israeli side.” He even went as far as to claim that the 1929 Arab riots in which Arabs murdered 130 Jews were a “response to the Zionist provocation”:
“First, we can’t not talk about the recurring Israeli discourse regarding an escalation during Ramadan. We have been hearing this tune for a number of weeks. I think that if we look back at history, even at the 1920s, we can see that even the 1929 Al-Buraq Rebellion [i.e., the 1929 Hebron Massacre and accompanying riots] was a response to the Zionist provocation. … The Palestinian response, and specifically in Jerusalem, always is a response to the provocation by the Israeli side … .”
The P.A. has previously claimed that the 1929 massacres were a response to the Jews who “read their hymns” at the Western Wall “in a highly provocative manner.”
IDF Lt. Col. (res.) Maurice Hirsch is the director of Legal Strategies for Palestinian Media Watch. He served for 19 years in the IDF Military Advocate General Corps. In his last position, he served as director of the Military Prosecution in Judea and Samaria.
This article was first published by Palestinian Media Watch.