The official news station of the Palestinian Authority described the terrorist who went on a stabbing spree in Jaffa Wednesday night as a “martyr” and called his victims “settlers.”
On Wednesday night, 22-year-old Palestinian Bashar Massalha killed an American tourist, US army veteran Taylor Force, and injured 10 other people, five critically, in a stabbing spree at the Jaffa Port and along the Tel Aviv beach promenade.
Massalha, who was from the West Bank, was shot and killed by Israeli police.
During the news broadcast on the official PA news station Palestine TV, which was translated to English by the Middle East Media Research Institute, the news presenter said the killer had been “martyred” during the attack.
Additionally, the correspondent on the scene said the attack was “a complex operation carried out by the martyr” and referred to the victims as “settlers.”
The attack took place in the heart of Israel; several of the injured were tourists and Arab-Israelis and the only fatality was American student Force.
MEMRI, a US-based watchdog, often highlights instances of anti-Israel or anti-Semitic programming on Arabic-language television.
The official Twitter account of the PA’s ruling party Fatah also referred to the Jaffa attacker as a “hero” and a “martyr.”
The PA-controlled media regularly uses the Arabic verb istashad (to be martyred) to refer to a Palestinian killed while carrying an attack.
However, official media in the West Bank usually refrains from referring to Israelis within the Green Line as “settlers.”
Fatah posted a cartoon on its Twitter account of a hand holding a knife over a map of Israel and the Palestinian territories. “This is the result so long as Israel does not believe in the two-state solution and ending its occupation,” the Fatah statement on Twitter read.
On Wednesday afternoon, US Vice President Joe Biden, who was in Jaffa with his family when the attack occurred, appeared to condemn Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for not speaking out against terror attacks.
“Let me say in no uncertain terms: The United States of America condemns these acts and condemns the failure to condemn these acts. This cannot become an accepted modus operandi,” Biden said during a press conference alongside Netanyahu at the Prime Minister’s Office.
Speaking before Biden, Netanyahu sent condolences to the family of Taylor Force, the US citizen who was killed in the attack. Force was a graduate of West Point and a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan.
“Joe, I appreciate your strong condemnations of terrorism. Nothing justifies these attacks,” Netanyahu told the vice president. “But unfortunately, President Abbas has not only refused to condemn these terrorist attacks. His Fatah party actually praised the murder of this American citizen as a Palestinian martyr and a hero.”
“Now, this is wrong,” Netanyahu continued. “And this failure to condemn terrorism should be condemned itself by everybody in the international community.”
Hamas, the Islamist group ruling Gaza, blessed the stabbing spree in Jaffa, as it does for all attacks against Israelis.
“Hamas congratulates the three heroic operations this evening, in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and Jaffa, and considers this proof of the failure for all these theories to abort the Intifada, which will continue until the realization of its goals,” said Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri in a statement.
“Hamas celebrates the martyrs that have ascended through these operations, and confirms that their pure blood will, God willing, be the fuel for escalating the intifada,” he said.
Twenty-nine Israelis and four non-Israelis have been killed in a wave of Palestinian terrorism and violence since October. Some 180 Palestinians have also been killed, about two-thirds of them while attacking Israelis, and the rest during clashes with troops, according to the Israeli army.
Raphael Ahren contributed to this report.