Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday hosted the family of a Palestinian terrorist who murdered an Israeli man in 2003, telling them their son was a “martyr” and a “hero,” the official Wafa news agency reported.
Abbas embraced family members of Yasser Hamdouni, who died of a heart attack last month while serving a life sentence for murder. The meeting took place at the Palestinian Authority’s Muqata’a headquarters in Ramallah.
“Your son was a hero. The blood of the martyrs and the victims has not been spilled in vain. They will be part of our path to an independent state, whose capital will be in East Jerusalem,” Abbas told the family, according to Wafa.
The family said Hamdouni had given his life for the “liberation and independence of Palestine.”
Abbas added that the Palestinian prisoners continued to contribute to the “national Palestinian project,” adding “the Palestinian leadership is working to end the suffering of prisoners in the prisons of the occupation.”
The official PA news outlet also posted a video with a collage of photographs of Hamdouni and his mother. The video portrays Hamdouni as a victim of Israeli actions, including a claim his heart condition stemmed from an attack by the Israeli Nachshon force for which he was never given treatment, and which ultimately caused his death. The video does not mention why he was imprisoned. The clips ends with a rundown of statistics about Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, including “208 martyrs [in Israeli jails] have ascended [to heaven — i.e., died] since 1967.”
Together with another terrorist, Hamdouni shot to death Avner Maimon, 51, in the West Bank village of Yabed west of Jenin during the Second Intifada in 2003. Yabed is part of the Jenin Governorate and is under the control of the Palestinian Authority. Fatah’s Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades claimed responsibility at the time.
Maimon reportedly visited Palestinian towns often to do business, although he had grown more cautious after Israeli security authorities warned him of the potential danger.
Hamdouni died on September 25 , apparently suffering a heart attack or stroke during his morning workout session in prison. Medical personnel who were called to the scene were unable to revive him. Hamduni was 28 when he carried out the attack, and 41 at the time of his death.
Israel has long accused the Palestinian Authority of glorifying terrorism with its moral and financial support for the families of Palestinian terrorists, including with monthly stipends. It argues that fiery speeches by Palestinian leaders, venomous posts on social media networks and the naming of public squares after Palestinians who killed Israelis have created a hate-filled climate. Abbas has spoken out against some of the violence wracking Israel in the past years, but Israel says his condemnations have been halfhearted.
Dov Lieber contributed to this report.