Throngs of marching Palestinians called out “Death to Israel” and demanded that hundreds of Israelis be gunned down, at the funeral Monday of a Palestinian Authority security officer who died carrying out a shooting attack on Israeli troops. Amjad Sakari was shot dead as he fired on Israeli soldiers at a West Bank checkpoint, injuring two of them seriously, on Sunday.
“It is time for the machine gun, to shoot 500 people,” the man leading Sakari’s funeral procession shouted over a megaphone, his words raucously repeated by the mourners, in footage screened by Israel’s Channel 2. “Muhammad’s army will return,” he vowed.
The mourners gathered in the northern West Bank city of Nablus and celebrated Sakari as a “martyr,” with many chanting slogans calling for intensified terror attacks against Jews and Israelis.
According to reports in Palestinian media, a number of high-ranking Fatah officials were among the thousands who attended the funeral. Among them was Nablus governor Akram Rajoub. “It doesn’t mean I agree with what he has done,” Rajoub said. “I’m against policemen carrying out attacks, but we are people who respect their martyrs and dead.”
Draped in a Palestinian flag, Sakari’s body was taken from the Rafidiyeh Hospital in Nablus to his hometown of Jamain, a village south of Nablus, for burial.
Sakari was a member of the Palestinian Authority security forces, and served as a bodyguard for the Ramallah district attorney.
On Sunday, he drove up to the Focus checkpoint near Beit El in his car, was asked for his ID, got out and opened fire with a handgun, injuring three soldiers. “Forces at the scene responded to the attack and shot the assailant, resulting in his death,” the IDF said in a statement.
While a number of PA officials delivered speeches at the cemetery, the Palestinian governing body has yet to officially comment on Sakari’s attack.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri praised the attack in a Sunday press release, saying the shooting “showcases the rejection of the occupation, even among members of the PA security forces.”
Sunday’s incident followed a string of assaults inside Jewish settlements in the West Bank, prompting the IDF to step up security measures in the area, including a partial closure on Ramallah for most of Monday.
It was the first time such a step was taken by Israel since the wave of Palestinian attacks began in October that have killed 27 Israelis, an Eritrean, an American and a Palestinian bystander. Some 150 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli security forces, most while carrying out attacks but others during clashes and demonstrations.
Sunday’s attack marked at least the second time a Palestinian security officer has been implicated in an attack against Israelis in the current wave of violence.
The head of a Palestinian intelligence body said recently that the PA has prevented some 200 attacks against Israelis in recent months.
Majed Faraj, director of the PA’s General Intelligence Service, told Defense News in an interview published January 20 that Palestinian security services have confiscated weapons and arrested some 100 Palestinians in an effort to prevent attacks.
“We are sure that violence, radicalization and terrorism will hurt us. It won’t bring us closer to achieving our dream of a Palestinian state,” Faraj told the magazine in what he said was his first media interview.