An Arab-Israeli social and political activist from Nazareth stirred controversy on social media this week after she condemned the “horrendous” murder of an Israeli couple who were gunned down Thursday as they drove in the West Bank with their four young children.
Thanaa Jawabreh on Thursday took to Facebook to apologize and denounce the attack, and urged Palestinian and Arab Israeli leaders to condemn it.
“We as Palestinians must denounce the bloodthirsty killers among us; a family returning home with their four children should not have been subjected to this horrifying act — even if they do live on a settlement,” she wrote in Hebrew on her profile.
“This therefore requires a mass protest against these murders; murder only brings murder, and bloodshed on one side leads to more bloodshed on the other,” she wrote.
“I apologize and expect that representatives from the Arab public speak out against this horrendous murder. Enough already!!” she added.
As of Saturday, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas had not condemned the attack. A military wing of Fatah, Abbas’s mainstream PLO faction, claimed responsibility for the killings.
Along with dozens of messages of support and agreement, Jawabreh’s comments sparked a heated debate among her online friends and followers.
“We always see an apology after an Arab murders a Jew, why don’t you write about the Arabs who stop them, or about what is happening in al-Aqsa [on the Temple Mount] or about the assault of women?” one person asked.
“Why are you apologizing? Of course all sane human beings would condemn the harming of the innocent. Those killed near Nablus [where the terror attack occurred] were not innocent, they were the extreme right,” another wrote before pointing to the recent clashes at the Temple Mount and the Duma firebomb attack in July in which three members of the Dawabsha family were killed. The attack is believed to have been carried out by Jewish extremists.
In a subsequent interview with Ynet, Jawabreh said she had apologized in her post “because these things were supposedly done in my name. I present myself as Palestinian, I’m proud to be Palestinian,” but “to kill two people in front of their children is an act that shook me to my core.”
She said that many feel the same way in her community but do not voice it.
“It was important to me to represent people who believe as I do but are not willing to say so,” she said.
“I join in the mourning of this family, and may we not hear of more such incidents,” Jawabreh said.
She condemned the recent uptick in stone-throwing attacks by Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and said that such acts were “most harmful to us.”
She also slammed the current Israeli government for supporting the expansion of settlements in the West Bank.
In a later post on Facebook, Jawabreh noted that despite some opposition, the majority of the thousands of comments her post had garnered were positive. She expressed her frustration with Ynet, which first reported the story, for publishing it with a “misleading” headline highlighting the very few negative responses.
“I wanted to convey the message that I am not alone [in feeling this way] because I am not! The misleading headline is unfortunate,” she wrote.
Ynet later changed the headline.
On Thursday, Eitam and Naama Henkin were shot dead in a terror attack when driving in the West Bank near the settlements of Elon Moreh and Itamar, near the Palestinian village of Beit Furik, close to Nablus.
Two Palestinian attackers opened fire on the car with a handgun and a rifle. Both parents were struck multiple times in their upper bodies, paramedics said. They were pronounced dead at the scene.
Their children — aged 9,7, 4 and 4 months — who were in the backseat of the vehicle, were unharmed.