Netanyahu orders probe into school that hosted terrorist’s parents
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Netanyahu orders probe into school that hosted terrorist’s parents

PM tells attorney general to look into opening incitement case after East Jerusalem elementary invites family of man who killed three in bus attack to speak

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with then-cabinet secretary and current Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, May 26, 2015. (Marc Israel Sellem/Pool/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with then-cabinet secretary and current Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, May 26, 2015. (Marc Israel Sellem/Pool/Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday ordered the attorney general to investigate whether an East Jerusalem school that hosted the parents of a Palestinian terrorist could be prosecuted for incitement.

The announcement came a day after the son of one of three men killed by Baha Allyan on a Jerusalem bus in October asked to speak at the Jabal Mukaber school, after it emerged that Allyan’s parents and brother had appeared at an event there.

“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered an inquiry into whether activity at a school in the eastern Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabel Mukaber – which invited parents of terrorists who had committed attacks to appear before pupils – constitutes incitement,” a statement from Netanyahu’s office Tuesday night read.

In late March, the privately run Elementary School of Jabel Mukaber hosted officials from the Palestinian Education Ministry along with Mohammed Allyan, Baha Allyan’s father, and his mother and brother.

Allyan, a 22-year-old graphic designer, was one of two terrorists from Jabel Mukaber who attacked the number 78 bus on October 13 with guns and knives, killing three. Security forces shot and killed Allyan at the scene; a second terrorist, Bilal Ranem, was captured alive.

Undated pictures showing Baha Allyan, left, and Bilal Riman, the attackers in the Jerusalem bus shooting/stabbing of October 13, 2015, according to Israeli press reports. (Screen capture: Channel 2)
Undated pictures showing Baha Allyan, left, and Bilal Riman, the attackers in the Jerusalem bus shooting/stabbing of October 13, 2015, according to Israeli press reports. (Screen capture: Channel 2)

According to a Facebook post since removed from the school’s Facebook page, Allyan’s mother urged the students to use knowledge instead of weapons.

The mother “taught them a great lesson whose gist is that the struggle can also be done through education, the pen, and culture and they can live their childhood with all of its hope, meaning, and dreams,” the post read.

The post referred to Allyan as a martyr, which is standard practice in Palestinian society. There was no mention of what his brother and father said at the event. The school declined a Times of Israel request to comment.

Fighting incitement

Netanyahu has made stemming what he terms Palestinian incitement toward violence a central plank of his counter-terror policy, urging world leaders to pressure Ramallah to halt the glorification of killers.

Jerusalem has also waged a campaign for social media platforms to remove posts they see as pushing or glorifying Palestinian terror.

Micah Lakin Avni, the son of peace activist Richard Lakin, who was injured in the bus attack and died two weeks later, has also embarked on an effort to pressure Facebook over “inciting” posts.

Richard Lakin (left) reads a book to his granddaughter as his son Micah Avni looks on. January 2014. (Courtesy)
Richard Lakin (left) reads a book to his granddaughter as his son Micah Avni looks on. January 2014. (Courtesy)

On Sunday, Avni asked the Jabal Mukaber school to allow him to speak to the students about his father’s legacy.

Richard Lakin, a 76-year-old former American school principal and civil rights activist, was known for his efforts to foster Jewish-Arab coexistence.

Two other Israelis were killed in the attack — Haviv Haim, 78, and Alon Govberg, 51.

Police guarding a bus after terrorists opened fire and stabbed passengers in Jerusalem on October 13, 2015. (Courtesy Police)
Police guarding a bus after terrorists opened fire and stabbed passengers in Jerusalem on October 13, 2015. (Courtesy Police)

 

Avni told Israeli news site Ynet after learning that the school had invited Allyan’s family members to address students, he contacted the principal and asked him “to invite me to give a talk to show the other side of the picture, and how we can live together in coexistence by respecting each other, and resolving conflicts by talking rather than fighting.”

Image taken from deleted Facebook post of an event at the Jabal Mukaber Elementary school, in which family members of Palestinian attacker Bahaa Allyan were invited to speak. (Courtesy: Facebook)
Image taken from deleted Facebook post of an event at the Jabel Mukaber Elementary school, in which family members of Palestinian attacker Bahaa Allyan were invited to speak. (Courtesy: Facebook)

Avni said he’d heard of several events across the West Bank where Mohammed Allyan was invited to speak, and in which Bahaa Allyan’s and others’ actions were praised. But, he said, “this is the first time I’ve seen such an event in Jerusalem, in areas that are under [Israeli] control.”

Image taken from deleted Facebook post of an event at the Jabal Mukaber Elementary school, in which family members of Palestinian attacker Bahaa Allyan were invited to speak. (Courtesy: Facebook)
Image taken from deleted Facebook post of an event at the Jabell Mukaber Elementary school, in which family members of Palestinian attacker Bahaa Allyan were invited to speak. (Courtesy: Facebook)

Avni called “incitement was the main factor that leads to the spread of terror.”

Following his father’s death, Avni launched a multi-faceted campaign against incitement on social media, including filing a class-action lawsuit against Facebook in a New York Court.

In Israel, he told a Knesset committee that lawmakers must do more to combat incitement on social media, in order to help prevent more of the terrorist attacks and tragedies of the kind that befell his family.

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