Abbas’ Fatah Praises ‘Heroic Martyr’ Who Murdered U.S. Veteran

Patrick Goodenough | March 9, 2016 | 5:48pm EST
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Palestinian Authority and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas meets with President Obama in March 2013. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

( – Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah organization on Wednesday praised as a “heroic martyr” the killer of West Point graduate and U.S. Army veteran Taylor Force, according to an Israel-based media monitoring group.

On its Facebook page, Fatah posted a sketch of a man’s hand holding a knife over a map of “Palestine,” Palestinian Media Watch reported. Across the map is written “Bashar Masalha,” the name of the 22 year-old Palestinian who stabbed Force and 11 others in the Tel Aviv-Jaffa area on Tuesday.

Written on the arm of the person holding the knife in the sketch are the words, “the heroic martyr.”

Meanwhile a news report on official Palestinian Authority television stated in part, “A complex operation was carried out in Jaffa, or more precisely in the Jaffa port, by the Martyr – according to Hebrew sources and sources in Qalqilya – Bashar Masalha, 22 ...  in which 12 settlers were hurt, among them an American tourist who was killed, according to the Hebrew sources.”

Separately, an Arabic-language article on a Fatah website page describes Masalha as a shahid (martyr). It also says, incorrectly, that the man he stabbed to death in the Jaffa “operation” was an Israeli.

Force, a 28-year-old U.S. Army veteran who had served in Iraq and Afghanistan, died from stab wounds sustained in the attack in Jaffa on Tuesday that also left 11 others wounded. In separate attacks the same day, two Israeli policemen were shot and wounded in Jerusalem, and an Israeli was stabbed in Petah Tikvah.

All three attackers were killed during the assaults. All three were described as martyrs in the Fatah website article.

Vice-President Joe Biden, on a two-day visit to Israel, was in Tel Aviv at the time of the attack. In a joint press appearance with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Wednesday he noted that his wife and grandchildren were having dinner at the beach nearby, “not very far from where that happened.”

“I don’t know exactly whether it’s 100 meters or 1,000 meters, and it just brings home that it can happen – it can happen anywhere at any time,” he said.

Biden condemned the attacks, and also criticized those who fail to condemn them.

“Let me say in no uncertain terms the U.S. condemns these acts and condemns the failure to condemn these acts,” he said.

“This cannot become an accepted modus operandi. This cannot be viewed by civilized leaders as an appropriate way in which to behave – even if it appears to inure to the benefit of one side or the other. It’s just not tolerable in the 21st century,” Biden continued.

“They’re targeting innocent civilians, mothers, pregnant women, teenagers, grandfathers, American citizens. There can be no justification for this hateful violence, and the United States stands firmly behind Israel’s right to defend itself as we are defending ourselves at this moment as well.”

Later, Biden underlined the point.

“The kind of violence we saw yesterday, the failure to condemn it, the rhetoric that incites that violence, the retribution that it generates, has to stop,” he said.

In his comments, Netanyahu said that Abbas “has not only refused to condemn these terrorist attacks, his Fatah party actually praised the murderer of this American citizen as a Palestinian martyr and a hero.”

“This is wrong,” he said. “And this failure to condemn terrorism should be condemned itself by everybody in the international community.”

A wounded man is evacuated from the scene of a stabbing attack in the Jaffa area of Tel Aviv on Tuesday, March 8, 2016. U.S. Army veteran Taylor Force died of stab wounds sustained in the assault. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

In New York, Israeli ambassador to the U.N. Danny Danon sent a letter to the U.N. Security Council calling for it to condemn the series of gun, knife and car-ramming attacks in Israel since last September.

Despite the deaths of 34 victims of the 317 attacks, he wrote, “the Security Council has not condemned Palestinian terror even once.”

Fatah was not alone in lauding the ongoing attacks, according to the Palestinian news agency Ma’an.

Hamas said in a statement the attacks were “evidence that the al-Quds intifada [uprising] will continue until its goals are achieved, and that all conspiracies to thwart the intifada have failed.”

“This proves the intifada wasn’t just an incidental rising but rather an ongoing activity until the liberation of Palestine,” said the Popular Resistance Committees, while the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine called the attacks a “natural reaction to the ongoing crimes Israeli forces commit against the Palestinian people.”

The DFLP also called on all Palestinian factions to form a “joint operation room” to coordinate attacks.

The DFLP is a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) which – like Fatah and the Palestinian Authority – is headed by Abbas.

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