Thursday 19 November was one of the bloodiest days in the current wave of violence in Israel. First, two were killed and another person injured in a stabbing attack in a synagogue in Tel-Aviv. Only a few hours later, three people were killed and five were wounded in a shooting and car ramming attack in the Gush Etzion region. Among the casualties were 18-year-old American yeshiva student, Ezra Schwartz, and a 24-year-old Palestinian bystander, Shadi Arafa of Hebron.
The following week, deadly attacks continued: on 22 Nov., a 21 year old woman was killed in another stabbing attack at the Gush Etzion junction. The following day, two soldiers were stabbed in a petrol station on route 443; one of them died from his injuries. On 24 Nov. a perpetrator carried out a car ramming attack at the Tapu’ach junction, injuring three.
Numerous additional attempted attacks took place on those days, and subsequently, causing a few injuries, but with no fatalities. For instance, on Sunday, there were two stabbing attacks in Jerusalem, one targeting a police officer and the second a Nepalese woman at a bus stop. Both victims survived, one of the perpetrators was killed and the other arrested.
These continuous attacks go under-reported in most international mainstream media. Yet there is not much sign of this ugly wave of murderous attacks on random civilians and soldiers subsiding – Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon reported yesterday to the Knesset that “The wave of terrorism is not dwindling or being curbed.”
Also ongoing is the Palestinian incitement behind these stabbing, ramming and shooting attacks – and there is almost certainly some correlation between the two phenomea. The use of lies and libels on Palestinian social and mainstream media has been covered in several previous posts (see here, here and here). False accusations regarding alleged ‘executions’ of Palestinians, ‘fabricated’ attacks and knives ‘planted at the scene’ only serve to enrage the public and mobilise the next perpetrator.
In the Palestinian media, terror attacks and their perpetrators are being glorified and praised. While this is by no means a new phenomenon, when it occurs during a wave of terror, it encourages the audience to take similar action, thus fueling the violence and inspiring the next attack.
For example, on 18 Nov. Wattan News Agency presented a repost ‘celebrating’ the first anniversary of the attack at Har Nof synagogue where five worshippers were murdered with guns and butcher’s knives. A policeman who arrived at the scene was also killed. The article praised the two terrorists:
“Today is the first anniversary of the Martyrdom of the sons of the Jabel Mukaber neighborhood and occupied Jerusalem, the mother of beginnings and ends, the heroes Ghassan and Uday Abu Jamal, who carried out the heroic Dir Yassin operation (i.e., the Har Nof synagogue terror attack)… Ghassan and Uday Abu Jamal exemplified the meaning of heroism for the homeland… They set out to protect it from the defilement of the thieving occupation, and died as Martyrs on the path of honor. Today is the first anniversary of the epos written by the heroes…”
Palestinian officials have also praised terror attacks which took place in the recent wave of violence. In one instance, on 19 Oct., Fatah’s Jibril Rajoub, praised the shooting attack in Be’er Sheva on official Palestinian state media, stating that the shooting was “an act of heroism.”
Incitement by PA and Fatah officials is not limited to the glorification of past and recent attacks, is also extends to hate speech that demonises and dehumanises Israelis, and Jews in general. Palestinian Media Watch reported, for example, that Abbas’ advisor on Islamic Affairs and Supreme Shari’ah judge Mahmoud Al-Habbash, in a sermon on official PA TV on 23 Oct., presented Jews as “evil” and Israel as “Satan’s project,” and therefore framed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a conflict between “good and evil”:
“The conflict here in Palestine […] is […] a further manifestation of the historic conflict between truth and falsehood, between good and evil […] The good is represented by the prophets and their supporters. The evil is represented by the devils and their supporters, by the satans and their supporters […] This is a conflict between two entities, good and evil, between two projects: Allah’s project vs. Satan’s project, a project connected to Allah, which is his will – true and good – and a project connected to oppression and Satanism, to Satanism and animosity, occupation and barbarism.”
On 1 Nov., Fatah spokesman in Jerusalem Raafat Alayan praised the numerous terror attacks that took place in and around the Old City. Not only did he refer, as is usually the case in Palestinian media, to all Israelis as ‘settlers’, implying Israel’s illegitimacy, he also expressed the deep held hatred and animosity towards Jews by using, almost casually, the antisemitic Koranic description of Jews as “the sons of apes and pigs” on PA TV:
“The heroic Palestinian people, including its children, women, and elderly, who have made intifada against the occupation and foiled [its plans]… I confirm that in this uprising, we in Jerusalem have succeeded in preventing 80% of the settlers, the sons of apes and pigs, from walking around the Old City and the stairs of the Damascus Gate.”
Meanwhile, following up on my previous post on the use of music and music videos to incite violence, Israeli authorities have closed down a radio station which was broadcasting songs of incitement such as:
“Blow up the executor’s [Israel’s] innards
Bring back the period of Martyrdom-seeking (i.e., suicide bombing)
Rise and strap yourself with bombs.”
And “Write in dripping blood: death to Israel! Write in dripping blood: death to Israel!”
On 27 Oct., another Fatah Central Committee member Tawfiq Tirawi, exemplified on official PA TV the way this incitement and hate speech is passed on to the next generation, and poisons the minds of young Palestinians. Tirawi expressed his satisfaction and fatherly pride after his two-year-old son started singing hateful propaganda songs in which martyrdom is glorified and the wish to violently kill ‘Zionists’ is expressed:
“Listen, my son is two years and ten months old. Yesterday, he sang to his mother: ‘Escort the Martyr to his wedding’ […] Today his mother told me that he sang: ‘Daddy, buy me a machine gun and a rifle, so that I will defeat Israel and the Zionists.’ A boy who is not yet three! A Palestinian grows up with a feeling of belonging to the land, the homeland, and the people.”
Children programs on PA TV also help to popularise these violent songs and poems. On one show on 6 Nov., a young girl recited a poem called “Visa” about how “Our enemy, Zion, is Satan with a tail:”
“When I was young I was taught that Arabness is my honor…
and that our lands extend from one end to the other,
and that our wars were for the Al-Aqsa Mosque,
and that our enemy, Zion, is Satan with a tail
and that our nation’s armies are outstanding.”
The host in response thanked the girl and added “I really like this poem.” Perhaps the girl’s parents, like Tirawi, were proud. Perhaps they too were inspired by al-Habbash’s sermon on the evil and Satan-like Jews.
According to PMW, this is far from being the first time the poem has been recited by children on TV.
And the parental pride is not reserved only to children reciting and singing hateful poems, it also extends to those who carry out hateful acts. On 22 Nov., alert Israeli citizens and security forces stopped a female Palestinian terrorist while she attempted to stab Israelis waiting in a bus stop near the Hawara checkpoint in the West Bank. During the incident, the attacker, who was 16 years old, was killed. Afterwards, her father confirmed that his daughter planned on carrying out an attack against Israelis, asking which are the “best knives in the house” for an attack and requesting that her organs be donated. When interviewed, he expressed how pleased he was by his daughter’s actions: “Thank God my daughter has done what needs to be done … I am very proud of her.”
However, this time the expression of pride created a somewhat awkward clash between two Palestinian narratives- glorification of terrorism on the one hand, and victimhood on the other hand.
Palestinian sources, such as Shehab News Agency, initially argued that the knife found next to the female terrorist was planted there by the Israeli security forces on the scene, despite multiple accounts by eye-witnesses who saw her carrying the large knife while approaching the civilians at the bus stop.
Fatah claimed that the young woman was simply trying to cross the road when she was intentionally run over by a settler and killed by soldiers who later planted the knife by her side.
A cartoon was also posted on Fatah’s Facebook page featuring Palestinian bodies and an Israeli soldier with a basket full of knives placing a knife next to each body. The cartoon reads “shoot.. add a knife.. take a photo.”
The Elder of Ziyon, in his post about the event, commented:
“It is always interesting to see how the stories change in the immediate aftermath of an attack as Palestinians try to figure out which narrative is better for them:- innocent victims or proud terrorists.”
It looks like in this case, the father’s pride and his glorification of his daughter’s stabbing attempt actually served to expose the lies behind the victimhood narrative.
By portraying attackers as innocent victims, Palestinian incitement has been fuelling the current wave of terrorism. The false accusations that Israel is fabricating stabbing attacks to justify ‘executions’ of Palestinians are only the latest libel. To take the absurdity of this lie even further, earlier this month Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian envoy to the UN, argued in a letter to United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, that Israel is harvesting the organs of Palestinians killed in stabbing attacks, who were supposedly “returned with missing corneas and other organs, further confirming past reports about organ harvesting by the occupying power.”
This non-stop incitement in Palestinian mainstream and social media is inescapable. Residents of Gaza and the West Bank alike are exposed to it from childhood and it is impossible to think that it does not have a deep effect on Palestinians’ views towards terrorism, and even willingness to carry out terror acts. The incitement goes far beyond the political goals of the conflict. It reaches the realm of dehumanisation and antisemitism and even calls not only for the elimination of Israel, but the extermination of all Jews.
This was most recently expressed on 16 Nov. at a funeral of two Palestinians who were reportedly killed in clashes with Israeli security forces, which was broadcast live on official Palestinian Authority TV. The speaker at the funeral called:
“[Allah,] do justice to the oppressed against the oppressors, and give them victory over the tyrants, O Master of the Universe. Strike the Jews, count them and kill them to the last one, and don’t leave even one.”