A Fatah spokesman has called on Palestinians to ignore calls for a new armed uprising against Israel in the West Bank, urging them to instead step up peaceful protests against the Jewish state’s military rule.
“We need to be smart…and not listen to the talk of the demagogues about the necessity of going to an armed confrontation,” Fatah spokesman Osama Qawasma told Palestine TV, the official Palestinian Authority television channel, Thursday night. “My words are candid. We must escalate popular resistance in the Palestinian lands.”
The official made the comments following two deadly terror attacks against Israelis in the West Bank earlier this week.
On Sunday, seven people were wounded by gunfire in a drive-by shooting, including a pregnant woman, outside the settlement of Ofra. The woman’s baby was delivered prematurely in an emergency operation, but died on Wednesday afternoon.
On Thursday, two Israeli soldiers were killed and two others — a civilian and another soldier — were severely injured in another shooting attack near Ofra.
Hamas, a Gaza Strip-based terror group which has for years called on Palestinians to stir up a confrontation with Israel in the West Bank, celebrated both attacks, with one of its spokesman describing them as “heroic.”
The Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’s military wing, also appeared to take responsibility for Sunday’s terror attack outside Ofra.
“From the heroic Barkan operation to the Ofra operation, the Qassam Brigades are undertaking a new battle,” the Qassam Brigades said in a statement on Thursday.
In October, two people were killed in another terror attack in the Barkan Industrial Zone.
PA President Mahmoud Abbas, who also holds the title of Fatah chairman, has long said he opposes violence against Israelis and supports peaceful protest against Israel’s military rule.
“We don’t believe in war, weapons, missiles, planes or tanks,” Abbas said in a speech at the PA presidential headquarters on Saturday, adding that Palestinians instead support “popular resistance” against Israel’s military rule.
He told Israeli peace activists in a meeting in September that he supports Israel’s security, underlining that the Palestinian and the Israeli security forces work together “on a daily basis” and that he and his people “do anything possible so that no Israeli gets hurt,” according to Peace Now, whose executive director attended the meeting with Abbas.
Israeli government officials, however, blame Abbas for fostering a climate of incitement against Jewish Israelis and have slammed his failure to condemn every attack.
Israel and the United States have also strongly denounced the PA practice of paying stipends to the families of Palestinian prisoners, including convicted terrorists who have killed Israeli civilians.