There is nothing that boosts Palestinian leaders’ popularity like their leading terror campaigns against Israel. This is the reason why suddenly, after months of relative quiet, Jerusalem Arabs and Palestinians throughout Judea and Samaria started attacking Israeli citizens and soldiers, and Hamas launched more than 40 missiles into Israel last week.
Here’s what happened.
Forced by the United States and the European Union, Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas (now in his 16th year of a four-year term) announced in January that the P.A. will hold elections on May 23. Since the announcement, it became clear that Abbas’s Fatah was far behind in the polls and facing the loss of political power. To counter the trend, official P.A. TV suddenly raised its incitement to violence to levels we have not seen in more than a year.
The intensified incitement started on “The Tune of the Homeland,” a quiz show broadcasting highly violent, pro-terror songs. To ensure maximum effect, the show was broadcast during the 4:00-5:00 p.m. time slot for children’s programming.
From March 13 to March 17, “The Tune of the Homeland” repeatedly (at least 10 times) broadcast the song “My machine gun is in my hand,” the lyrics of which are the following:
“My machine gun is in my hand, and I want to continue marching;
“Our occupied land will not return for free;
“I want to continue marching, I want to continue marching;
“My machine gun and my bullets are the path to salvation.”
As the tunes played, the P.A. TV narrator added, nonchalantly, “We play the most beautiful tunes. And in every tune—a bullet; and in every lyric—a rifle.”
As the holy Muslim month of Ramadan approached, the P.A. TV’s machine guns were replaced with suicide belts. From April 2 to April 10, “The Tune of the Homeland” broadcast, on at least 20 occasions, a clip in which Palestinians declared, “I fired my shots, I threw my bomb, I detonated, detonated, detonated my [explosive] belts … My brother, throw my blood on the enemy like bullets.”
As the tunes played, the narrator interjected, “We will defend Palestine with our bodies. Our bullets will make sounds of joy to herald signs of victory in order to cut off the invading occupiers, who came from across the sea and settled in our lands.”
Primed by this P.A. incitement, soon after Ramadan started, Palestinian youth and Jerusalem Arabs started indiscriminately attacking Jews and uploading the videos of the attacks to Tiktok, a social-media platform particularly popular with young people.
Whether traveling on the Jerusalem light railway, walking dogs or entering Jerusalem’s old city via the Damascus gate, Jews everywhere became targets.
As the violence erupted, Abbas’s Fatah took to social media to fuel the flames.
“Death and not submission … Millions of Martyrs are marching to Jerusalem; with spirit, with blood, we will redeem you Al-Aqsa Mosque … A blessing for the Molotov cocktail … Warm blessings to the stone … O Martyr, we swear, we will not withdraw from the Al-Aqsa Mosque,” declared the official Fatah Facebook page on April 24.
“Millions of Martyrs are marching to Jerusalem” echoed Fatah Deputy Chairman Mahmoud Al-Aloul, on his Facebook page.
Each call to violence was intensified with images of the violence.
The P.A. prime minister hailed the “scenes of heroism emerging from the streets and alleys of the city of Jerusalem.”
Not wanting to be upstaged by the new anti-Israel “uprising” coming from Abbas’s Fatah, Hamas realized that it had to compete with Abbas or lose political points. And so, one night without warning, Hamas competed with Fatah in the manner that it knows has the most influence, and launched more than 40 missiles at southern Israel in “defense of Jerusalem.”
Abbas’s P.A. was furious that Hamas’s terrorism was sharing center stage with its own terror in Jerusalem. The P.A. daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida countered, declaring that “Jerusalem’s protectors and guardians have well understood that the elections in Jerusalem are a battle of national sovereignty.”
It further warned Hamas that its rocket fire will give the “occupation”—Israel—the opportunity to “divert the compass from Jerusalem.”
“This is the call of Jerusalem now, because the confrontation is here, and the struggle is here,” continued the official P.A. daily. The struggle is being waged through “the popular resistance,” a term used by Palestinians that also refers to the use of violence and terror. No one, continued the P.A. daily referring to Hamas, “can allow the occupation to divert the compass.”
With both Fatah and Hamas fighting against Israel in parallel, Abbas realized that the political gain he hoped to achieve had been neutralized. He also realized that after years of abusing his own people, directing a few weeks of violence in Jerusalem is not enough to change his political image or that of Fatah as a corrupt failure. So, he has apparently decided to do what any other dictator would do when faced with an electoral defeat: reports are that he is about to announce the cancellation of the elections altogether.
Carl von Clausewitz, the 18th-century military theorist, famously quipped, “War is the continuation of politics by other means.”
For Abbas, Fatah and Hamas, violence directed at Israel “in defense of Jerusalem” is just another one of the methods of playing internal Palestinian politics and campaigning before elections. While Hamas fires rockets, Abbas, the P.A. and Fatah prefer the more subtle approach of inciting and recruiting Palestinian youth, and sending them out to attack Israelis, as part of the P.A.’s child-terrorist army.
Itamar Marcus, founder and director of Palestinian Media Watch, is one of the foremost authorities on Palestinian ideology and policy.
Lt. Col. (res.) Maurice Hirsch, Adv. is the Head 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. Tweets @mauricehirsch4.