Abbas warmly welcomes terrorist released after 20 years in jail
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Abbas warmly welcomes terrorist released after 20 years in jail

Fatah official applauds Rajaei Haddad, accomplice in 1997 murder of Gabriel Hirschberg, as 'a leader, a hero and a fighter'

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (r), welcomes Rajaei Haddad, who spent 20 years in the Israeli prisons for his involvement in a 1997 terror attack which killed Gabriel Hirschberg. (WAFA/Thaer Ghanaim)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (r), welcomes Rajaei Haddad, who spent 20 years in the Israeli prisons for his involvement in a 1997 terror attack which killed Gabriel Hirschberg. (WAFA/Thaer Ghanaim)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas welcomed a terrorist immediately upon his release from a 20-year sentence in Israel prison for murder, in an hour-long meeting that focused on Palestinian prisoners.

Rajaei Haddad was saluted by other Fatah members as “a leader, a hero, and a fighter.”

Palestinian Authority TV showed footage of the meeting between Abbas and Haddad, who spent two decades in prison for his role in the November 1997 murder of yeshiva student Gabriel Hirschberg in the Old City of Jerusalem, in an April 10 television report. The report stressed “that our leadership gives top priority to the issue of our prisoners.”

Haddad told viewers of Abbas’ concern for the well-being of all the jailed Palestinian terrorists.

Gabriel Hirschberg, killed in a terror attack on Hagai Street in the Old City of Jerusalem, November 20, 1997. (Courtesy)

“The president asked me about each and every one,” Haddad said. “We sat together for a full hour and he listened to me. He asked me about the prisoners, listened to me, and wrote down everything. The president sends his regards (to the prisoners).”

Haddad was released from jail on March 14. He was the lookout for the terror attack on Hagai Street, signalling to Ayman al-Sharbati when he saw two yeshiva students approaching. Al-Sharbati, who is still in prison, opened fire with a Kalashnikov assault rifle, killing Hirschberg and seriously wounding the other student.

The news clip, translated by the MEMRI Middle East Media Research Institute, also showed a celebration held in Jerusalem to welcome the released terrorist that was attended by senior members of Fatah, the dominant party ruling the Palestinian Authority.

“First, let me salute our prisoners who are languishing in prison,” said Fatah Revolutionary Council secretary Adnan Ghaith, “Here, in our capital of Jerusalem, our people welcome a leader, a hero, and a fighter, who sacrificed 20 years for the sake of Jerusalem, Palestine, and our great people.”

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (r) meets with Rajaei Haddad, who spent 20 years in the Israeli prisons for his involvement in a 1997 terror attack that killed Gabriel Hirschberg. (WAFA/Thaer Ghanaim)

In addition to supporting the other prisoners, Fatah said the celebrations were intended to send a message to the Israelis that the issue of prisoners and “martyrs” was non-negotiable.

“I am very happy to join the people of Jerusalem, our eternal capital, in welcoming this Fatah knight, who spent 20 years in the prisons of the Israeli occupation, in defense of our land, our people, our independence and our freedom,” said Fatah Central Committee member Jamal Moheisen. “This (event) is a message of loyalty to the prisoners, the heroes. It is also a message to the occupation that the issue of the prisoners and martyrs is where we draw the line.”

The meeting between Abbas and Haddad came some two weeks before US President Donald Trump signed into law a bill that cuts some aid to the Palestinians until they end stipends to terrorists and the families of slain attackers, as he approved a massive $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill.  Abbas condemned the Taylor Force Act and vowed to continue paying families of “martyrs and prisoners.” Yusef al Mahmoud, spokesperson for the PA government in Ramallah, said that the US should instead have called for “ending the occupation and suffering of the Palestinian people.”

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