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Terrorist murderers are “a crown on our heads,” – PA Ministry of Health and Fatah

Nan Jacques Zilberdik  |
  • PA TV “proud” of murderers

  • Mother of terrorist murderer: “We are not embarrassed by them, [they are not imprisoned] for theft or something. We are proud. We are proud of them, of all the young people like them”

  • PA Ministry of Health distributed Coronavirus vaccines first to “the families of the heroic prisoners whom we of course consider a crown on all our heads,” so they could visit their imprisoned terrorist relatives

  • Terrorist who planned suicide bombings that murdered 20 Israelis is “one of the heroes”

It seems the Palestinian Authority and the ruling Fatah party cannot say it enough times: They are “proud” of terrorist prisoners who attacked and/or murdered Israelis and view them as “a crown” on their heads. As Palestinian Media Watch has documented, this terror glorification is emphasized by the leadership repeatedly and again recently by Fatah’s secretary in Tulkarem:

Fatah Tulkarem Secretary Iyad Jarrad: “This great welcome [of a released prisoner] is because the least [we can do] is a gesture of loyalty to our prisoners who have sacrificed their lives. We must always welcome them, carry them aloft, and make speeches that worthy of them, their activities, and all our brave prisoners, because truly they are the spearhead of the Palestinian problem and they are a crown on our heads.”

[Official PA TV News, April 9, 2021]

The spokesman of the PA Ministry of Health used the same expression describing terrorist prisoners, announcing that the PA had decided to first give the vaccination against the Coronavirus to relatives of prisoners so that they would be able to visit their imprisoned terrorist relatives. This decision is yet another indicator of the high esteem and status the terrorist prisoners hold in PA society:

PA Ministry of Health Spokesman Kamel Al-Shakhra: “There were also instructions from Her Honor [PA] Minister of Health [Mai Al-Kaila] to give [Corona virus vaccines] to the families of the heroic prisoners, whom we of course consider a crown on all our heads.”

[Official PA TV, Corona - Measures and Prevention, April 1, 2021]

In a recent broadcast, official PA TV hosted the mothers of several murderers of Israelis. The PA TV host expressed the PA’s “pride” in these murderers and praised a released murderer also appearing on the show as “one of the great ones of the homeland”:

Official PA TV host: “We will be with one of the great ones of the homeland… the family of the prisoner who spent 35 years in the darkness of the prisons…that is prisoner Rushdi Saleh Abu Mukh (i.e., terrorist, involved in murder of 1)… We are going with full honor and pride to Rushdi Abu Mukh…“

Released terrorist Rushdi Abu Mukh: “On behalf of my whole family and the mother of our brother and beloved prisoner Karim Younes- the two prisoners Karim and Maher Younes (i.e., terrorist cousins, murdered 1), and the mother of-“

PA TV host: “Ibrahim and Muhammad Agbaria (i.e., terrorists, murdered 3), Allah give them health... [Rushdi,] we are proud of you and your heritage of struggle and your giving…”

Mother of terrorist murderer Maher Younes: “We are not embarrassed by them, [they are not imprisoned] for theft or something. We are proud. We are proud of them, of all the young people like them…”

Host: “We too are proud of you families of the prisoners, mothers of the prisoners… Allah willing, you will rejoice over Maher soon, and we will also rejoice over him, one of the great ones of the homeland in whom we take pride.”

[Official PA TV, Giants of Endurance, April 11, 2021]

At a meeting led by Fatah Chairman Abbas, Fatah’s Central Committee reiterated its support for the terrorists and “saluted the heroic prisoners.” The committee also announced that dead terrorists – the so-called “Martyrs” - are “more precious than all of us,” and “the torch illuminating the path” to an independent “Palestine”:

“The Fatah Central Committee saluted our heroic prisoners in the occupation’s prisons and emphasized that there is no peace and no stability without their full release without conditions or restrictions. The committee emphasized that it will not allow the harming of their rights (apparently refers to Israel’s Anti “Pay-for-Slay” Law to deduct PA terror salaries -Ed.), regardless of the pressures. It also added that the Martyrs, who are more precious than all of us, will continue to be the torch illuminating the path to building our independent Palestinian state, and that the lives of their families are a red line that we will not agree to have harmed under any circumstances.”

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, March 20, 2021]

Similarly, the PA Governor of Ramallah, Laila Ghannam, blessed the “heroic prisoners” and vowed to “follow the path of the Martyrs and prisoners” – i.e., terrorists.

Posted text: “[Ramallah and El-Bireh District Governor] Dr. [Laila] Ghannam sent her blessings to our heroic prisoners and said that our people is following the path of the Martyrs and prisoners until our independent state whose capital is Jerusalem will be established.”

[Facebook page of Ramallah and El-Bireh District Governor Laila Ghannam, April 12, 2021]

Praise for specific murderers in prison is almost an everyday occurrence in the PA. For example, a reporter on official PA TV glorified Israeli Arab terrorist Khaled Bastami who is serving a 21 year sentence for stabbing and wounding 4 Israeli civilians in the Israeli town of Ra’anana north of Tel Aviv on Oct. 13, 2015. The reporter praised him and his terrorist “career,” stressing that Bastami was “one of the stone children even before he was 14” – meaning he participated in rock-throwing at Israelis as a child. Later he was “in the front lines of every confrontation” until he “carried out a stabbing operation that wounded 4 settlers.” Note that it is common PA language to refer to all Israelis such as these who were stabbed in a city north of Tel Aviv as “settlers,” as an expression of the Palestinian denial of Israel’s right to exist in any borders:

Official PA TV reporter: “Prisoner Khaled Bastami (i.e., terrorist, wounded 4) was first arrested during the Al-Aqsa Intifada in 2000 (i.e., PA terror campaign 2000-2005, more than 1,100 Israelis murdered). He was one of the stone children (i.e., rock-throwing children) even before he was 14. Afterwards he continued throughout his entire life to be in the front lines of every confrontation – to the point that he would run away from school in order to resist the occupier and his invasions… His last arrest was in 2015, after he carried out a stabbing operation that wounded 4 settlers.”

[Official PA TV, Good Morning Jerusalem, April 2, 2021]

Similarly, the official PA daily glorified imprisoned terrorist Thabet Merdawi who was a leading member of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Jenin and who planned at least 9 terror attacks in which 20 Israelis were murdered and 150 wounded in 2001-2002, during the PA’s 5-year terror campaign – the second Intifada:

“Prisoner Thabet Azmi Suleiman Merdawi (i.e., terrorist, responsible for murder of 20)… began his 20th consecutive year in the occupation’s prison yesterday. Director of the [PA-funded] Prisoners’ Club in Jenin Muntasir Sammour noted that prisoner Merdawi is one of the heroes of the Jenin battle, and that he was arrested after his ammunition ran out and after he was wounded… the occupation sentenced him to 21 life sentences and another 40 years, on charges of planning and carrying out a series of Martyrdom-seeking operations (i.e., suicide bombings) that left dozens dead and wounded in the ranks of the occupation soldiers (sic., the attacks targeted civilian areas).”

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, April 6, 2021]

Senior Fatah official Jibril Rajoub also used the term “crown on our heads” to describe murderers who killed Israelis during the wave of terror attacks in 2015-2016:

Of course, this praise only adds to the  clearest expression by the PA of its support for terrorists: The PA’s “Pay-for-Slay” program under which the PA pays salaries to imprisoned terrorists, released terrorists, injured terrorists and allowances to families of dead terrorists – the so-called “Martyrs.”

The following are longer excerpts of the statements cited above:

“The Fatah Central Committee held a meeting yesterday evening, Friday [March 19, 2021], led by [PA] President Mahmoud Abbas at the [PA] presidential headquarters in Ramallah…

The Fatah Central Committee saluted our heroic prisoners in the occupation’s prisons and emphasized that there is no peace and no stability without their full release without conditions or restrictions. The committee emphasized that it will not allow the harming of their rights (apparently refers to Israel’s Anti “Pay-for-Slay” Law to deduct PA terror salaries -Ed.), regardless of the pressures. It also added that the Martyrs, who are more precious than all of us, will continue to be the torch illuminating the path to building our independent Palestinian state, and that the lives of their families are a red line that we will not agree to have harmed under any circumstances.”

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, March 20, 2021]

Israel's Anti "Pay-for-Slay" Law - Israeli law stating that the PA payments to terrorists and the families of dead terrorists is a financial incentive to terror. The law instructs the state to deduct and freeze the amount of money the PA pays in salaries to imprisoned terrorists and families of "Martyrs" from the tax money Israel collects for the PA. Should the PA stop these payments for a full year, the Israeli government would have the option of giving all or part of the frozen money to the PA. The law was enacted by the Israeli Parliament on July 2, 2018. During the parliamentary vote, the law's sponsor Avi Dichter said: “The Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee received much help in its deliberations... from Palestinian Media Watch who provided us with authentic data that enabled productive and professional deliberations, nuances that are very difficult to achieve without precise data.” [Israeli Parliament website, July 2, 2018] In accordance with the law, as of September 2021 Israel’s Security Cabinet had ordered the freeze of 1.857 billion shekels ($580.15 million) - the sum equivalent to the PA payments to terrorists in 2018, 2019, and 2020.

PA Ministry of Health Spokesman Kamel Al-Shakhra: “The [Coronavirus] vaccinations have been given in order and according to the international and global instructions by age groups and groups of sick people… and now the work has gradually begun on [vaccinating people] over age 65 in some of the districts, and afterwards [the age of those receiving the vaccine] will gradually decrease. We are waiting for the arrival of other vaccines to Palestine in the coming days… There were also instructions from Her Honor [PA] Minister of Health [Mai Al-Kaila] to give [vaccines] to the families of the heroic prisoners, whom we of course consider a crown on all our heads. The provision [of vaccines] began today [April 1, 2021] in the Ramallah district, and in the rest of the homeland’s districts the work will be carried out gradually until completion for all the prisoners’ families, so that they will be able to gradually visit their relatives [the prisoners].” …

Director of the Jericho District Health Department Dr. Saleh Hawash: “We will vaccinate – it was agreed with these [pharmaceutical] companies to import these vaccines. We will give them consecutively according to groups and according to the - Of course, we need to give [vaccines to] the prisoners’ relatives. As we noted, the Israeli occupation is conditioning the visits of the prisoners’ families on them receiving the vaccine.”

Official PA TV host: “There is a question here, will the Jericho Health [Department] begin to prepare to vaccinate the prisoners’ families?”

Saleh Hawash: “Currently we have begun to give them-”

Host: “Today they began in Ramallah.”

Saleh Hawash: “Yes, right, in the Jericho district we have begun to give them [vaccines]. Contact was made with the [PA] Ministry of Prisoners’ Affairs so that we would be given a list of first degree relatives, so that they will be vaccinated and be able to visit their relatives soon. Allah willing, we have begun giving them these vaccines.”

[Official PA TV, Corona - Measures and Prevention, April 1, 2021]

Images and text posted on the Facebook page of Ramallah and El-Bireh District Governor Laila Ghannam
The images show Ramallah and El-Bireh District Governor Laila Ghannam speaking at an event for the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan at “Martyr Yasser Arafat Square” in Ramallah.

Posted text: “[Ramallah and El-Bireh District Governor] Dr. [Laila] Ghannam sent her blessings to our heroic prisoners and said that our people is following the path of the Martyrs and prisoners until our independent state whose capital is Jerusalem will be established… [Ghannam also wished] that we will celebrate the lighting of the Ramadan torch and the holiday of Easter in Jerusalem when it is liberated from the occupation’s defilement.”

[Facebook page of Ramallah and El-Bireh District Governor Laila Ghannam, April 12, 2021]

Headline: “Prisoner Thabet Merdawi began his 20th year in prison”

“Prisoner Thabet Azmi Suleiman Merdawi (i.e., terrorist, responsible for murder of 20), 46, from the town of Arraba south of Jenin, began his 20th consecutive year in the occupation’s prison yesterday [April 5, 2021].

Director of the [PA-funded] Prisoners’ Club in Jenin Muntasir Sammour noted that prisoner Merdawi is one of the heroes of the Jenin battle (refers to battle when terrorists attacked Israeli soldiers during Operation Defensive Shield; see note below -Ed.), and that he was arrested after his ammunition ran out and after he was wounded by two bullets – one in the hip and one in the arm. He bled for hours, and then the occupation soldiers broke into the site and arrested him (sic., Merdawi turned himself in to Israeli security forces). A number of years after he was arrested, the occupation sentenced him to 21 life sentences and another 40 years, on charges of planning and carrying out a series of Martyrdom-seeking operations (i.e., suicide bombings) that left dozens dead and wounded in the ranks of the occupation soldiers (sic., the attacks targeted civilian areas).”

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, April 6, 2021]

Thabet Merdawi - Palestinian terrorist and leading member of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Jenin who planned at least 9 terror attacks that murdered 20 Israelis and wounded 150 in 2001-2002: Binyamina train station suicide bombing (July 16, 2001, 2 murdered), Kibbutz Shluhot suicide bombing (Oct. 7, 2001, 1 murdered), Hadera Market shooting attack (Oct. 28, 2001, 4 murdered), Wadi Ara suicide bombings (Nov. 29, 2001, 3 murdered, and March 20, 2002, 5 murdered), Afula central bus station suicide bombing (March 5, 2002, 1 murdered). Merdawi turned himself in to Israeli security forces on April 11, 2002, during the Israeli military operation Defensive Shield. Merdawi is serving 21 life sentences and an additional 40 years.

Jenin – refugee camp north of Nablus that was a major hotbed of terrorism in the PA terror campaign 2000-2005 (the second Intifada). To reduce the attacks, Israeli forces entered Jenin on April 3, 2002, to conduct searches as part of Operation Defensive Shield, which was carried out to destroy the terror infrastructure in the West Bank, and several days of intense fighting against Palestinian terrorists in booby-trapped houses ensued. While the PA claimed that the Israeli forces committed a “massacre” and killed hundreds of civilians, a UN report refuted these claims, confirming that 52 Palestinians were killed in the battle of which the majority were terrorists. 23 Israeli soldiers were also killed in the fighting.

Official PA TV reporter: “Prisoner Khaled Bastami (i.e., terrorist, wounded 4) was first arrested during the Al-Aqsa Intifada in 2000 (i.e., PA terror campaign 2000-2005, more than 1,100 Israelis murdered). He was one of the stone children (i.e., rock-throwing children) even before he was 14. Afterwards he continued throughout his entire life to be in the front lines of every confrontation – to the point that he would run away from school in order to resist the occupier and his invasions.
Khaled, who is the father of two children, withstood many injuries over the years, and one of them remained on his body as testimony to the occupier’s terror. His last arrest was in 2015, after he carried out a stabbing operation that wounded 4 settlers

Khaled was saved from certain death following the wild and lethal attack against him by the settlers, who ran him over and struck him… and the occupation did not make do with this but rather arrested his young brother Majd as well and attacked him…

Khaled’s wounds did not help him, and he was forced to undergo interrogation while in the hospital bed, and there he shouted at them saying: ‘My intent was to become a Martyr for the sake of Allah and the homeland.’ …

Khaled Bastami… did not break… and in prison he achieved a matriculation certificate and is currently completing a BA degree in social studies. He is also learning art.”

[Official PA TV, Good Morning Jerusalem, April 2, 2021]

Khaled Bastami - Palestinian terrorist from East Jerusalem who stabbed and wounded 4 Israeli civilians in the Israeli town of Ra’anana on Oct. 13, 2015. Bastami is serving a 21 year sentence.

Fatah official Iyad Jarrad praised all the Palestinian imprisoned terrorists at the celebrations of the release of prisoner Nawfal Abd Al-Ghani. PMW was unable to determine the nature of his crimes.