Inside Story

Amid terror wave, incitement to violence floods Palestinian social media

PA President Abbas condemned attacks against Israeli civilians, but officials in his Fatah party express support for violence; Hamas, Islamic Jihad share posts praising terrorism

Supporters of the Hamas terrorist organization gather to express their solidarity with the Jenin refugee camp, against the Israeli operation on the West Bank city and adjacent camp, in Jabalia in the northern Gaza Strip on April 10, 2022 (MOHAMMED ABED / AFP)
Supporters of the Hamas terrorist organization gather to express their solidarity with the Jenin refugee camp, against the Israeli operation on the West Bank city and adjacent camp, in Jabalia in the northern Gaza Strip on April 10, 2022 (MOHAMMED ABED / AFP)

As a series of deadly terror attacks rocked Israeli cities in recent weeks, Palestinian social media seethed with incitement supporting the violence and encouraging future attackers.

Fourteen people have died in four deadly attacks across the country, the bloodiest wave of violence Israel has seen in years. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the two attacks committed by West Bank Palestinians in Bnei Brak and Tel Aviv.

But on Palestinian social media, many accounts have relentlessly put out clips praising the attacks. In some cases, users have set graphic footage of the violence to traditional music. Addressing Israelis, the lyrics vow that “you will see hell and its gates will open on the Day of Resurrection.”

Other Palestinian social media users shared a song — originally disseminated by the Islamic Jihad-linked Filastin al-Yawm channel — hailing Jenin’s so-called resistance: “God blessed the champions of Jenin with a Molotov cocktail and a knife.”

The Hamas and Islamic Jihad terror groups have sought to play up the violence in their official media. Both terror groups issued statements praising the attacks in the aftermath of every incident.

In a video statement following clashes between Palestinian terrorists and Israeli soldiers in Jenin, the area from which the Bnei Brak and Tel Aviv terrorists came, a spokesperson for the Hamas military wing — the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades — hailed the “resistance” in the northern West Bank city.

“Our heroes and revolutionaries are not alone,” Hamas military spokesperson Abu Obeida said, followed by scenes of Palestinian terrorists setting up rocket launchers set to heroic music.

In other Hamas-affiliated social media accounts, commentators praising the attacks received hundreds of likes. “After the Tel Aviv operations, I say to this Ramadan month: You’ve made us happy, Ramadan,” Fayez Abu Shemala, who writes a regular column for Hamas mouthpiece Falastin, wrote gleefully on Twitter.

In other videos, the pro-Hamas Falastin sought to use children to express its support of the recent terror attacks.

“He’s a hero and he was martyred by God’s will,” said the young brother of Ra’ad Hazem, who killed three people last Thursday night in the terrorist attack on Dizengoff Street in Tel Aviv.

The Palestinian Authority’s ruling Fatah party has also contributed to the tide of incitement. Although Abbas condemned both terror attacks committed by Palestinians, numerous Fatah officials have sought to hitch a ride on the attacks.

Fatah Central Committee member Abbas Zaki spoke at an event on Sunday night commemorating Hazem and Ahmad al-Sa’adi, a Palestinian gunman killed in a clash with Israeli troops in Jenin.

“I salute the steadfast Jenin,” said Zaki, calling the city “a national stronghold.”

Jenin Governor Akram Rajoub called Hazem, who was a resident of the city, a “Fatah fighter,” telling The Times of Israel and other outlets that he did not consider him to be a terrorist.

The governor was later spotted at another mourners’ tent set up by the family of the terrorist, who was killed in a gunfight with police in Jaffa hours after the attack.

Rajoub, a longtime Palestinian Authority security official and member of the ruling Fatah party, serves as Abbas’s representative in Jenin.

In a speech at the mourners’ tent, Rajoub called Hazem “a Fatah warrior, for whom the occupation’s bullets did not distinguish between him and his comrade Ahmad al-Sa’adi.”

The identification with the terrorists has extended to social media as well as official Palestinian Authority outlets.

“Glory and eternity to our righteous martyrs,” pronounced a Fatah page purportedly affiliated with the Hebron branch of the Palestinian party over a picture of Diaa Hamarsheh, who killed five people in the terror attack in Bnei Brak on March 29.

Complaints about incitement in official Palestinian Authority media preceded the current spike in attacks. In March, tensions rose in the West Bank after Israeli forces killed three Palestinian terrorists in Nablus, with officials saying they were a “ticking bomb” on their way to commit an attack.

During a subsequent live broadcast on Palestine TV live-streaming the demolition of one of the gunmen’s homes, Fatah official Abd al-Ilah Ateerah praised Palestinian resistance “with what Allah provides us.”

“When you see a 15-year-old Palestinian child carrying a rock or another tool or a knife, know that this cause continues in the blood of our people,” said Ateerah.

Other Fatah party officials have repeatedly praised the “war with the Jews” following the recent terror attacks in Israel.

“We are taking action for our Lord… Our goal is not Fatah, Fatah is a means. Fatah is a means for the liberation of Palestine. Our war is with the Jews,” Fatah’s party secretary in Jenin, Ata Abu Rmeilah, told al-Awdah TV on March 27, after the current terror wave began.

Abu Rmeilah later called Hamarsheh’s attack in Bnei Brak “heroic” in interviews with Palestinian media and praised the actions of the terrorist to a supportive crowd.

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