The political faction of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas honored as a “martyr” a gunman who killed two Israelis in Jerusalem on Sunday, and called for a general strike and public mourning in his memory.
Israeli monitor group Palestinian Media Watch noted that the praise for the terrorist, whose identity remains under gag order in Israel, was posted on Fatah’s official Facebook page.
“The one who carried out the operation today in Jerusalem is a pilgrim [to Mecca] martyr, one of the most prominent people in Jerusalem and the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque, and a released prisoner,” Fatah said, according to an English translation of the Arabic provided by PMW.
Israeli officials have long complained that incitement and support from the Palestinian Authority in the form of praise, honorifics, and cash payments to the families of Palestinians killed during attacks encourages further terrorism.
According to PMW, “Fatah referred to the murderer as a “shahid,” an Islamic martyr, a status often depicted by official Palestinian Authority media as the highest achievement to which a Muslim can aspire.
In another post to the Facebook page, the Jerusalem branch of Fatah announced a general strike “in Jerusalem in memory of the souls of the martyrs of Palestine and this morning’s martyr.”
The message quoted a section from the Koran that said, “Permission [to fight] has been given to those who are being fought, because they were wronged. And indeed, Allah is competent to give them victory.”
Jerusalem resident Levana Malihi, 60, and police officer First Sergeant Yosef Kirma, 29, were killed and six others injured after the terrorist sprayed bullets at passersby from a moving car on Sunday morning near Ammunition Hill in the north of the capital. The shooter, a resident of Silwan in East Jerusalem, was shot dead by police.
Hamas claimed the man as one of its members. After apparently taking credit for the attack, the Gaza-based terror group also praised the shooting as “heroic” and “brave.”
The group’s Qatar-based leader, Khaled Mashaal, called the parents of the terrorist on Sunday evening and congratulated him, saying his actions “defended the Palestinian people.”
According to Palestinian reports, he added that Palestinians were “proud” of their son, whom he praised as an “example” to his contemporaries. “Hamas will carry on it its jihad until Palestine and the Al-Aqsa Mosque are liberated from the impurity of the occupation,” he said.
In a separate statement, Hamas spokesperson Fawzi Barhoum called the attack “a natural reaction to the crimes and violations of the occupation against our people.”
The Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement also praised that attack, calling it “heroic.”
The US State Department condemned the attack, saying “there is absolutely no justification for the taking of innocent lives. We also condemn the statements glorifying this reprehensible and cowardly attack.”
The gunman opened fire at a group of people waiting at a light rail stop on Haim Bar-Lev Street, hitting one woman before speeding off toward Charles Simon Clermont-Ganneau Street where he shot and fatally wounded Malihi.
After shooting at civilians twice, the assailant continued toward the Arab neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah. In a shootout with police, he killed Kirma before officers gunned him down.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.