Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas this week praised as a “martyr” the Jordanian national who was shot dead while attempting to stab Israeli Border Police officers in Jerusalem on Friday.
In a condolence letter sent to the family of Saeed Amro, Abbas called the slain would-be attacker “a martyr who watered the pure earth of Palestine with his blood,” and expressed hope that “God would wrap the martyr in his mercy, and that he will dwell in paradise,” the Ynet news website reported on Tuesday.
According to Israeli security officials, Amro, 28, was shot and killed Friday as he approached a group of policemen with knives in each hand at the Damascus Gate entrance to the Old City. Upon searching Amro’s body, police found additional knives on his person.
Over the weekend, Amman sharply condemned the killing of Amro as “barbaric,” and Jordanian authorities expressed doubt he had assaulted the Israelis at all, claiming he was merely a tourist.
On Sunday, Israel’s Foreign Ministry sent footage to Jordan that appeared to corroborate the Israeli police account, showing Amro brandishing the blades and moving towards the security forces before being shot.
According to police, Amro also shouted “Allahu akbar” — “God is great” in Arabic — as he approached the officers.
He had arrived in Israel the day before and stayed at a hostel in the Old City. On Friday morning, he attended prayer services at the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount. Amro purchased the knives at a shop in the Muslim Quarter market upon leaving the holy site on Friday and hid them in his clothes, police said.
On Monday, the Jordanian government formally requested that the Israeli ambassador in Amman provide full details of the circumstances of Amro’s death.
Amro’s attack on Friday was one of nine carried out in the West Bank and Jerusalem in the past five days.
In the wake of the upsurge of violence, senior Palestinian officials have condemned the killing of Palestinian assailants over the last week as “executions,” though they declined to address the attacks themselves.
Israel has previously come under criticism from Palestinians and the international community for the way in which it responds to attacks on its civilians and soldiers. In turn, Israel has repeatedly accused Abbas of failing to condemn the wave of Palestinian attacks on Israeli civilians and security forces that erupted late last year, and says his PA hierarchy presides over incitement to terror and violence against Israel.
In the past year, Israel saw a wave of so-called “lone-wolf” Palestinian terror attacks, which has claimed the lives of 35 Israelis and four foreign nationals since October 2015. Over 200 Palestinians have also been killed in the past year, with the Israeli army and police saying that most of those killed were attackers or involved in clashes with security forces.