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“The freedom tunnel knights” – A full review of PA reactions to the escape and capture of the terrorist prisoners

Nan Jacques Zilberdik  |

Praise for the escaped terrorists:

  • “The freedom tunnel knights”

  • “The six heroic prisoners”

  • “Freedom tunnel prisoners”

  • “The six revolutionaries who shook the world”

  • “Prisoner hero Zakariya Zubeidi and his heroic prisoner comrades Mahmoud Abdallah Ardah, Muhammad Qassem Ardah, and Yaqub Qaderi”

Fatah Deputy Chairman:

  • “The heroes who liberated themselves from the grip of the prison guard achieved the honor of heroism and initiative, achieved their desire, and harmed the security doctrine of the enemy”

  • “The prisoners who took their freedom by force restored the Palestinian cause to the top of the agenda”

PA and Fatah:

  • Israel “did not know that the example of the freedom tunnel had already entered history… The re-arrest of the six prisoners will not erase this magnificent example, which the Palestinians will tell of from generation to generation”

  • Escape was “quality blow and great humiliation” for Israel

  • “What the six heroes achieved is a miracle”

While four of the six escaped Palestinian terrorists are back behind bars, the PA, PLO, and Fatah continue to highlight the “victory” of the six “heroes” and “revolutionaries who succeeded in liberating themselves,” while praising all the imprisoned terrorists as “the best of us and a crown on the head of the Palestinian people.” Moreover, Fatah describes “everyone who resists this occupation” as “a freedom fighter,” while PLO calls the prison break “a mighty victory” and “heroic event”:

The Fatah Movement said that ‘the prisoners are the best of us and a crown on the head of the Palestinian people, and we and the masses of our people will not stand idly by if our heroic prisoners are harmed in any one of the Israeli occupation’s prisons.’ … Fatah warned the occupation authorities against the consequences of harming the lives of the six heroic Palestinian prisoners who carried out their sacred right to freedom. It emphasized that the Palestinian people’s struggle against the occupation is a legal right and that the occupation itself is the one that is invalid according to international law, and everyone who resists this occupation is a freedom fighter

Head of the PLO Department of Expatriate Affairs Rawhi Fattouh… mentioned the six prisoners’ liberation operation from the Israeli Gilboa Prison by saying: ‘Our heroic prisoners in the Israeli occupation prisons recorded a mighty victory, which is added to the list of their victories and legendary resolve, after six of them escaped through a tunnel they dug at Gilboa Prison.’

He described what happened as a great victory and a heroic event.”

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Sept. 10, 2021]

The term “resist” is a term the PA uses for violence and terror. Even Palestinian terrorists who murder civilians are said to be legitimately "resisting." 

An editorial in the official PA daily made light of the arrests, pointing out that the escape is a “magnificent example” that has “entered history”:

“For six days all the Palestinians hoped that the six heroic prisoners who dug the freedom tunnel in the occupation’s Gilboa Prison would succeed in completely disappearing from the eyes of the Israeli occupation forces…

The occupation state mobilized all its security resources and teams and came out in its entirety to search for them. But it did not know that the example of the freedom tunnel had already entered history, and that the matter was finished… The re-arrest of the six prisoners will not erase this magnificent example, which the Palestinians will tell of from generation to generation.”

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Sept. 12, 2021]

A columnist of the same paper described the escape poetically as “leaving the belly of the whale”:

“They did not flee, they did not escape, rather they released themselves. They realized the right to freedom with the utmost intelligence and courage… The prisoners dug in the ground calmly, secretly, and quietly, and they left the belly of the whale alive and free.”

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Sept. 9, 2021]

A Fatah branch secretary commented that Israel “was stunned” over the unity between the factions represented by the six escaping terrorists, [Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Sept. 11, 2021] while Fatah’s Central Committee celebrated “the quality blow and the great humiliation” of Israel caused by the prison break:

The quality blow and the great humiliation that it suffered after six heroic prisoners achieved their freedom from the fortified ‘Gilboa’ Prison”

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Sept. 10, 2021]

The Committee also “expressed its complete solidarity with the prisoners who are standing firm behind bars and with the liberated prisoners.”

Fatah Deputy Chairman and Fatah Central Committee member Mahmoud Al-Aloul heaped more praise on all imprisoned terrorists, referring to them as “a laurel wreath on the brow of every Palestinian,” while glorifying the escaped terrorists as “heroes” with “initiative”:

“From the beginning we announced that all our people are standing alongside our prisoners, and that they constitute a laurel wreath on the brow of every Palestinian, as they sacrificed their freedom for our sakes… The heroes who liberated themselves from the grip of the prison guard achieved the honor of heroism and initiative, achieved their desire, and harmed the security doctrine of the enemy.”

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Sept. 12, 2021]

The PA Mufti of Jerusalem and the Palestinian Territories and preacher at the Al-Aqsa Mosque Sheikh Muhammad Hussein “praised the male and female prisoners and said: ‘Peace to our heroic prisoners and those of them who were liberated, and the greatest sacrifice is that a man become a Martyr or prisoner.’” [Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Sept. 11, 2021]

Palestinian Popular Struggle Front (PPSF) Central Committee member Bassem Maslamani praised the escaped terrorists as “the six revolutionaries who shook the world.” [Official PA TV, Reporters in the Field, Sept. 11, 2021]

As Palestinian Media Watch has demonstrated, the PA/PLO/Fatah also exploited Israel's search for the escaped terrorists to call for violence and terror – the PA’s so-called “popular uprising.” So far at least 3 terrorists have followed the call and carried out stabbing attacks:

“The Palestinian National Liberation Movement – Fatah called on the masses of our people to come out for an urgent popular uprising (i.e., term used by Palestinians, which also refers to the use of violence and terror) in all the Palestinian cities, villages, and refugee camps as a sign of support for the prisoners (refers to 6 terrorist prisoners including Zakariya Zubeidi who escaped from prison -Ed.). It emphasized that it ‘will stand together with the masses of our people alongside our heroic prisoners and will not leave them along in the battle.’”

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Sept. 9 and 10, 2021]

PLO: Terrorists are “Prisoners of War”

PLO Executive Committee member and Head of the PLO Department of Human Rights and Civil Society Ahmed Tamimi furthermore claimed that international law deems the escaped and now re-captured terrorists “prisoners of war,” and stated that “the occupation is illegal, and therefore they have the right to resist it and be liberated from its captivity.” [Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Sept. 12, 2021] However, Palestinian terrorist prisoners do not meet the definition of prisoners of war. Even former PA Minister of Prisoners’ Affairs has admitted in court that “fewer than five” meet international criteria to be defined as POWs as Palestinian Media Watch has exposed.

Fatah Spokesman Osama Al-Qawasmi expressed the same viewpoint:

“Our heroic prisoners are prisoners of war, and all the sentences that the occupation authorities sentenced them to are invalid sentences that contradict the Geneva Convention.”

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Sept. 8, 2021]

He added that “they are fighting for the sake of freedom, human justice, and expelling the Israeli occupation from our homeland and our State of Palestine.”

Similarly, Fatah Movement Secretary in Tulkarem Iyad Al-Jarrad claimed that Israel's arrests of Palestinian terrorists are unlawful:

“Al-Jarrad… said that the fact that the occupation arrested a number of the families and relatives of the six heroes is an act of revenge that contradicts all the international norms and conventions… He also emphasized that every prisoner has the right to attempt to achieve their freedom in the appropriate manner, as their arrest contradicts the law from its very basis.”

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Sept. 11, 2021]

Earlier, Al-Qawasmi asserted that all the Palestinian terrorists – “our heroic prisoners” - have the right to break out of prison:

Official PA TV newsreader: “Fatah Revolutionary Council member and official [Fatah] Spokesman Osama Al-Qawasmi expressed Fatah’s pride on its behalf for our heroic prisoners and noted that they have the full right to take their freedom by force, and that their natural place is among their family members and their people and not in the occupation’s cruel prison cells.”

[Official PA TV News, Sept. 8, 2021]

PA called on Palestinians to support the escaped terrorists

Before the capture of four of the six escaped terrorists, the PA, PLO, and Fatah called on the Palestinian public - and even “demanded” – that it “support and aid” them:

“Hundreds of citizens participated in processions yesterday, Friday [Sept. 10, 2021]… in Jenin as a sign of support for the prisoners… The speeches at the two processions on behalf of the [Palestinian] National and Islamic Forces called for additional support and aid for the prisoners who achieved their freedom and for the prisoners in the occupation’s prisons…

They held the occupation authorities fully responsible for the lives of the prisoners who broke the chains and succeeded in escaping from Gilboa Prison and demanded that all elements of our people support and aid them.”

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Sept. 11, 2021]

One of the official PA daily’s regular columnists described in detail how Palestinians ought to help the terrorists on the run:

Headline: “How to protect the tunnel heroes”

The heroes of the Gilboa Prison tunnel, who breathed the air of freedom in the early morning hours of Monday, Sept. 6 [2021], urgently need support and aid by every Palestinian patriot who is interested in protecting the heroes of glory… All of us, without exception, must:

- Give each one of them absolute support if they knock on the door of any home in order to ask for shelter against the Zionist colonialists’ night patrols, or if they need means of transportation, clothing, food, water, or medicine.

- Don’t chatter about them, their location, or any piece of information about them to anyone

- If anyone of our people – a woman, child, or man – is summoned to a meeting with the intelligence officers of the Israeli intelligence, and if anyone who is connected to the heroes is arrested, we all must refuse to speak about [the heroes] on principle and must not provide any piece of information, as insignificant as it may be.”

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Sept. 9, 2021]

News of Israeli Arabs informing on the escaped terrorists named “a fabrication”

When Israel announced that the capture of the first two terrorists succeeded thanks to the help of Israeli Arab citizens in Nazareth who reported seeing the prisoners, the PA was quick to claim this an Israeli “fabrication” designed to “sow the seeds of strife and divisiveness” among Palestinians:

“Jenin District Governor Akram Rajoub called to fight those who are stirring up strife among the members of the one [Palestinian] people in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, Jerusalem, and inside the 1948 territories (i.e., Israel)… : ‘Since yesterday the occupation’s pawns have begun to sow the seeds of strife and divisiveness among the members of the one people, and this is just in order to divert attention from the defeat that it experienced against the determination of our heroic prisoners’”

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Sept. 12, 2021]

“[The insults against Nazareth citizens] have spread on social media since Friday evening, and they reached the lowest level when every resident of Nazareth entering Jenin and the West Bank was threatened following the arrest of two prisoners from among the six heroes.”

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Sept. 12, 2021]

In an editorial in its official daily, the PA also criticized Hamas for “fabricating” news that the PA had offered to help Israel in the search for the terrorists. The PA/Fatah used the opportunity to belittle Hamas for the fact that none of the escaped terrorists were members of Hamas but of Fatah and the Islamic Jihad. The PA further stressed that it supports the escaped terrorists, underlining that Fatah had “praised the operation” as “a miracle” and organized demonstrations in support of the “heroic prisoners”:

“The Hamas Movement alone is the one that fabricated the news item on the PA’s willingness to cooperate with the occupation regarding the freedom tunnel heroes, and it broadcast this on the screen of [Hamas’] Al-Aqsa TV, and its source was the Israeli Security Agency! And everyone knows that Hamas, of which none of the six heroes [who escaped] were members, was not balanced and was even jealous in its media coverage of the matter, because Fatah Movement Revolutionary Council member Zakariya Zubeidi was one of these heroes, and the matter became famous because of his position and his name that are well known

The editor [of the Lebanese paper Al-Akhbar] and the writer of the article did not read Fatah’s announcements that praised the operation and warned the occupation authorities not to harm the lives of the six heroes, and [said] that the prisoners’ issue is a red line that must not be harmed under any circumstances from the perspective of Fatah and the PA. They did not read the articles that unanimously agreed that what the six heroes achieved is a miracle, and they did not watch – only out of malicious intent – the video reports of [official] PA TV about the popular demonstrations that included all the Palestinian cities of the West Bank as a sign of support for the heroic prisoners, which were all under Fatah flags and under its leadership.”

[Editorial in the official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Sept. 11, 2021]

2021 Gilboa Prison escape – 6 Palestinian terrorist prisoners escaped from Israel's Gilboa Prison on Sept. 6, 2021, by widening the hole of the shower drainpipe in the floor of their cell. One terrorist is from Fatah - Zakariya Zubeidi, and the other five are from Islamic Jihad - Ayham Kamamji, Muhammad Ardah, Mahmoud Ardah, Yaqub Qaderi, and Munadil Nafiyat. Four of the terrorists were recaptured after five days: Zubeidi, Ardah, Ardah, and Qaderi. Kamamji and Nafiyat were arrested in Jenin on Sept. 18, 2021 along with two accomplices. Zubeidi was head of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades (Fatah's military wing) in the Jenin area during the PA terror campaign (the second Intifada, 2000-2005), when he oversaw numerous lethal attacks, and he also carried out shooting attacks in 2018-2019. Kamamji participated in the murder of 18-year-old Eliyahu Asheri on June 25, 2006, and planned to blow up a bus using an exploding car. Muhammad Ardah participated in initiating and executing a suicide bombing on bus no. 823 on Nov. 29, 2001, in which 3 people were murdered and many others were wounded. Mahmoud Ardah was involved in numerous attacks; the website of Islamic Jihad’s military wing defined him as the "commander" of the prison escape. Qaderi committed a shooting attack on Sept. 18, 2002 with an accomplice in which Israeli Yosef Ajami was murdered and a foreign worker was wounded. Nafiyat was being held in administrative detention.

The following are longer excerpts of the statements cited above, and additional Palestinian reactions to the prison escape of the 6 terrorists:

Headline: “Demands for international intervention and urgent protection of the prisoners in the occupation’s prisons”

The Fatah Movement said that ‘the prisoners are the best of us and a crown on the head of the Palestinian people, and we and the masses of our people will not stand idly by if our heroic prisoners are harmed in any one of the Israeli occupation’s prisons.’ …

Fatah warned the occupation authorities against the consequences of harming the lives of the six heroic Palestinian prisoners who carried out their sacred right to freedom (refers to Gilboa Prison escape; see note below -Ed.). It emphasized that the Palestinian people’s struggle against the occupation is a legal right and that the occupation itself is the one that is invalid according to international law, and everyone who resists this occupation is a freedom fighter…

Head of the PLO Department of Expatriate Affairs Rawhi Fattouh… mentioned the six prisoners’ liberation operation from the Israeli Gilboa Prison by saying: ‘Our heroic prisoners in the Israeli occupation prisons recorded a mighty victory, which is added to the list of their victories and legendary resolve, after six of them escaped through a tunnel they dug at Gilboa Prison.’

He described what happened as a great victory and a heroic event that proves that the Palestinians are not lacking the means and the tools that are renewing in its struggle against the tyrannical occupation on the path of its ongoing revolution to achieve its freedom and independence and get rid of the longest and most despicable occupation in modern history.”

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Sept. 10, 2021]

Excerpt of an editorial by the official PA daily

“For six days all the Palestinians hoped that the six heroic prisoners who dugthe freedom tunnel in the occupation’s Gilboa Prison would succeed in completely disappearing from the eyes of the Israeli occupation forces (refers to Gilboa Prison escape; see note below -Ed.)…

The occupation state mobilized all its security resources and teams and came out in its entirety to search for them. But it did not know that the example of the freedom tunnel had already entered history, and that the matter was finished…

The re-arrest of the six prisoners will not erase this magnificent example, which the Palestinians will tell of from generation to generation. Since the occupation state does not want this example to become a story of Palestinian pride, it began to spread fabricated stories regarding the means that led it to rearrest four of them until now! The goal of these stories is to besmirch the national integrity of the Palestinians behind the Green Line (i.e., Palestinian term for Israel; the Green Line is the ceasefire line between Israel and the neighboring Arab countries, 1949-1967), and especially in the Arab city of Nazareth (refers to Israeli Arabs who reported on the escaped terrorist prisoners -Ed.).”

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Sept. 12, 2021]

Green Line - 1949-1967 ceasefire line between Israel and the neighboring Arab countries (Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria) following Israel's War of Independence (1948-1949). Land within the Green Line is all part of the State of Israel since 1949. Land outside the Green Line includes East Jerusalem, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and the Golan Heights.

Headline: “Following the arrest of four of the freedom tunnel prisoners by the occupation forces: The PLO holds the occupation government fully responsible for the prisoners’ lives”

“The PLO held the occupation government fully responsible for the lives and wellbeing of the prisoners, who are undergoing criminal abuse in its prisons of the most despicable kind (sic., see note below regarding PA libel on medical abuse of Palestinian prisoners). In a statement by [PLO] Executive Committee member [and Head of the PLO Department of Human Rights and Civil Society] Ahmed Tamimi yesterday [Sept. 11, 2021], the PLO said that the international laws consider them as prisoners of war (sic., Palestinian terrorist prisoners do not meet the definition of prisoners of war) and that the occupation is illegal, and therefore they have the right to resist it and be liberated from its captivity (refers to Gilboa Prison escape; see note below -Ed.)…

Fatah Deputy Chairman and [Fatah] Central Committee member Mahmoud Al-Aloul said that the prisoners who took their freedom by force restored the Palestinian cause to the top of the agenda. He said that the re-arrest of four of them and the tightening of the noose around the prisoners are unprecedented crimes and violations, which join the record of the occupation’s crimes.

In an interview with [official PA] radio [station] The Voice of Palestine, Al-Aloul said that Fatah has a clear strategy to act on the ground to pressure the occupation to release the prisoners. He added: ‘From the beginning we announced that all our people are standing alongside our prisoners, and that they constitute a laurel wreath on the brow of every Palestinian, as they sacrificed their freedom for our sakes.’

He also said that the heroes who liberated themselves from the grip of the prison guard achieved the honor of heroism and initiative, achieved their desire, and harmed the security doctrine of the enemy

Fatah emphasized that the fact that Chairman of the Prisoners’ Committee in the [Fatah] Revolutionary Council prisoner hero Zakariya Zubeidi (i.e., terrorist, responsible for numerous attacks) and his heroic prisoner comrades Mahmoud Abdallah Ardah, Muhammad Qassem Ardah, and Yaqub Qaderi(i.e., Islamic Jihad terrorists) were rearrested will not weaken the determination of our prisoners or the members of the lauded Palestinian people, which has been experienced in struggle and confrontation with the colonialist Zionist project for more than 100 years…

Fatah emphasized that it and the masses of our people are standing behind the prisoners and their cause, and that our Palestinian people will not sit idly by if any prisoner is harmed – whether from among the four who were rearrested, the two who are still enjoying freedom, or any of our heroic prisoners in the occupation’s prison.”

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Sept. 12, 2021]

The article includes a picture of a girl holding a sign with the number “6” on it and barbed wire, indicating the six terrorist prisoners who escaped from Gilboa Prison.

Text on sign: “Zakariya Zubeidi and his comrades,

You are our pride.

Fatah”

Libel on medical abuse of Palestinian prisoners - the PA claims that Israel abuses Palestinian prisoners, through medical neglect, medical experiments, and by intentionally infecting them with diseases. However, the International Red Cross regularly visits these prisoners and has not documented or accused Israel of any of these claims. Likewise, lists of demands occasionally issued by the prisoners during hunger strikes - such as during one in 2011 - include no demands relating to these claims. PMW has documented prisoners talking about how they "lack nothing" in the prisons, and that "the worst thing about Israeli prison" is riding in a prison vehicle that has no padding on the seat. When PMW contacted the Israeli Ministry of Health in 2007 regarding PA claims of medical experiments on prisoners, the ministry responded: "Clinical testing on prisoners in prison was never approved, never performed, and is most certainly not taking place at present."

Excerpt of a column by Muwaffaq Matar, Fatah Revolutionary Council member and regular columnist for the official PA daily

Headline: “Mines in the six heroes’ path to freedom – be careful!”

They did not flee, they did not escape, rather they released themselves. They realized the right to freedom with the utmost intelligence and courage…

The prisoners dug in the ground calmly, secretly, and quietly, and they left the belly of the whale alive and free.

All that is required of us is to act with wisdom that draws inspiration from their calmness and their extraordinary abilities to maintain secrecy, as noise is liable to turn into mines that we plant with our own hands in their path without intending to do so. Just as we want the heroes to be free, so to we pray to Allah that they will live.”

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Sept. 9, 2021]

Headline: “The occupation announced the arrest of two of the Gilboa [Prison] prisoners and raided the Ashkelon Prison [cells]”

“Approximately 40,000 worshippers held the Friday prayers yesterday [Sept. 10, 2021] at the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque plazas under heightened [security] measures by the occupation authorities.

From the Saladin Pulpit in the Southern Mosque (i.e., the Al-Aqsa Mosque itself), [PA] Mufti of Jerusalem and the Palestinian Territories and preacher at the Al-Aqsa Mosque Sheikh Muhammad Hussein praised the male and female prisoners and said: ‘Peace to our heroic prisoners and those of them who were liberated (refers to Gilboa Prison escape; see note below -Ed.), and the greatest sacrifice is that a man become a Martyr or prisoner, and the occupation will not weaken the resolve of the prisoners’ movement.’”

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Sept. 11, 2021]

Muhammad Hussein also serves as Deputy Secretary-General and acting Secretary-General of the PLO Popular National Conference of Jerusalem.

Headline: “Jenin district governor: We must fight the accusations against our people inside the 1948 territories”

“Jenin District Governor Akram Rajoub called to fight those who are stirring up strife among the members of the one [Palestinian] people in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, Jerusalem, and inside the 1948 territories (i.e., Israel).

District Governor Rajoub added in a statement yesterday evening [Sept. 11, 2021]: ‘Since yesterday the occupation’s pawns have begun to sow the seeds of strife and divisiveness among the members of the one people, and this is just in order to divert attention from the defeat that it experienced against the determination of our heroic prisoners’ (refers to how Israeli Arabs reported on 6 terrorist prisoners who escaped from Gilboa Prison; see note below -Ed.)…

Rajoub called on our people to fight the poisoned calls and the accusations against our people who are standing firm and carrying out Ribat (i.e., religious conflict over land claimed to be Islamic) on their land inside the 1948 territories.”

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Sept. 12, 2021]

Headline: “The Hadash branch in Nazareth and the [Israeli] Communist Party condemn the attack of insults and threats against the residents of Nazareth”

“The [Israeli Arab] Hadash [political party] branch in Nazareth and the [Israeli] Communist Party branch in the city condemned the attack of insults that reached the point of threats against residents of the entire city. [The insults] have spread on social media since Friday evening [Sept. 10, 2021], and they reached the lowest level when every resident of Nazareth entering Jenin and the West Bank was threatened following the arrest of two prisoners from among the six heroes (refers to Gilboa Prison escape; see note below -Ed.)…

Hadash and the Communist Party said in a statement yesterday: ‘There is no justification at all for a cheap attack against an entire people or against the residents of an [entire] city, as behind every action stands one person or a small group who cannot represent a city. The attack began yesterday (two days ago) [parentheses in source] with the appearance of contradictory rumors and the publication of pictures with names that do not belong to the people appearing in them, with the claim that this or that person is the one who informed [Israel].’”

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Sept. 12, 2021]

Excerpt of an editorial by the official PA daily

“The Hamas Movement alone is the one that fabricated the news item on the PA’s willingness to cooperate with the occupation regarding the freedom tunnel heroes, and it broadcast this on the screen of [Hamas’] Al-Aqsa TV, and its source was the Israeli Security Agency! And everyone knows that Hamas, of which none of the six heroes [who escaped] were members, was not balanced and was even jealous in its media coverage of the matter, because Fatah Movement Revolutionary Council member Zakariya Zubeidi(i.e., terrorist, responsible for numerous attacks) was one of these heroes, and the matter became famous because of his position and his name that are well known…

The editor [of the Lebanese paper Al-Akhbar] and the writer of the article did not read Fatah’s announcements that praised the operation and warned the occupation authorities not to harm the lives of the six heroes, and [said] that the prisoners’ issue is a red line that must not be harmed under any circumstances from the perspective of Fatah and the PA. They did not read the articles that unanimously agreed that what the six heroes achieved is a miracle, and they did not watch – only out of malicious intent – the video reports of [official] PA TV about the popular demonstrations that included all the Palestinian cities of the West Bank as a sign of support for the heroic prisoners, which were all under Fatah flags and under its leadership.”

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Sept. 11, 2021]

Headline: “Processions in Jenin as a sign of support for the prisoners who achieved their freedom”

“Hundreds of citizens participated in processions yesterday, Friday [Sept. 10, 2021], in the villages of Ya’abad and Arraba in Jenin as a sign of support for the prisoners who are being subjected to oppression and harassment by the Israeli occupation.

A procession set out from Arraba and passed through the streets of the city towards the home of prisoner Mahmoud Ardah (i.e., terrorist, involved in numerous attacks) who escaped Gilboa Prison (refers to Gilboa Prison escape by 6 terrorists; see note below -Ed.) and ended with a support vigil, while a similar procession took place in Ya’abad…

The speeches at the two processions on behalf of the [Palestinian] National and Islamic Forces called for additional support and aid for the prisoners who achieved their freedom and for the prisoners in the occupation’s prisons…

They held the occupation authorities fully responsible for the lives of the prisoners who broke the chains and succeeded in escaping from Gilboa Prison and demanded that all elements of our people support and aid them.”

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Sept. 11, 2021]

Palestinian National and Islamic Forces - an unaffiliated coordinating body comprised of representatives from factions in the PLO and outside the PLO. The Palestinian National and Islamic Forces were established in 2000 shortly after the start of the PA terror campaign (the second Intifada, 2000-2005), under the authorization of Yasser Arafat and the leadership of terrorist Marwan Barghouti. During the PA terror campaign it played an active role in coordinating political efforts and terror attacks against Israel, but since the end of the campaign it has been less significant and its activity is primarily centered in Gaza.

Headline: “Abu Al-Hija: The Al-Resalah website is not part of the national [media] coverage and it is in a state of confusion”

“Editor in Chief of [the official PA daily] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida Mahmoud Abu Al-Hija said that the Hamas Movement’s website Al-Resalah is not part of the national [media] coverage and it is in a state of confusion. It does not read or monitor what is reported in the official [PA] national media, puts out hallucinations, sows despicable internal conflict, and serves the needs of its funders.

Abu Al-Hija told the [official PA] radio station The Voice of Palestine yesterday, Thursday [Sept. 9, 2021], that the Al-Resalah website does not read, watch, or listen to the reports of the [official PA news] agency WAFA, the paper Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, [official] PA TV, and the radio station The Voice of Palestine regarding all the events in our land, and particularly on a national matter such as the heroic event of the six prisoners of Gilboa [Prison] (refers to Gilboa Prison escape; see note below -Ed.).”

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Sept. 10, 2021]

Excerpt of an editorial by the official PA daily

“Some of the rumors, and even most of them, were created in the circles of the hostile intelligence forces. These [media] outlets rely on Israeli papers, and especially on the extremist racist right-wing papers, as reliable sources, and they cite news items from them… This is what [Hamas’] Al-Aqsa TV did when it cited… a news item whose source was the Israeli Security Agency (!) [parentheses in source], which claims that two high-ranking officials in the PA proposed aid and an exchange of information with the Israeli Security Agency regarding the six prisoners who succeeded in escaping from the occupation’s Gilboa Prison (refers to 6 terrorist prisoners including Zakariya Zubeidi who escaped from prison -Ed.)! This is not just a sin against professionalism and objectivity, but also a sin against the national values and national ethics, which call solely for unity, cooperation, friendship, and constantly searching for that which is in common in order to fight the occupation.”

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Sept. 8, 2021]

Palestinian Popular Struggle Front (PPSF) Central Committee member Bassem Maslamani: “First, allow me to congratulate our brothers in the occupied Palestinian Interior (i.e., Palestinian term for Israel) – this Interior that stood with strength, honor, and heroism in the recent intifada to defend the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the [site of Prophet Muhammad’s] Night Journey and to defend our brothers in the Sheikh Jarrah [neighborhood of Jerusalem] (refers to Israeli Arab participation in Fatah/Hamas riot and rocket war 2021; see note below -Ed.). Their stand was a stand of honor and heroism, and this emphasizes that the Palestinian people will never relinquish its history and will never relinquish its identity, and it constitutes one unit demographically and geographically, from one end to the other. Regarding the matter, as you know, we are suffering hardships. The entire Palestinian people is suffering hardships – whether in the Palestinian Interior, in the northern districts (i.e., the West Bank), and in all the lands of the diaspora, and the refugees and also the free people of the world – over what happened: The six revolutionaries who shook the world and recalled the torture that exists in the enemy’s prisons (refers to Gilboa Prison escape by 6 terrorists; see note below -Ed.). This torture was exposed through the will, firmness, and desire of these six revolutionaries who succeeded in liberating themselves and dismantling this system, the despicable electronic system whose goal was to close in on and kill our fighters inside the prisons. Yes, our Palestinian people is entirely united today, first of all behind its leadership, and behind its prisoners and fighters, and we will not leave them alone. The West Bank is standing together now to show that our people is holding on to its choices and that from our perspective the prisoners are the barometer with which this can be seen. These prisoners are the flag of the [Palestinian] cause.”

[Official PA TV, Reporters in the Field, Sept. 11, 2021]

Fatah/Hamas Riot and Rocket War 2021 – On April 30, 2021, facing certain electoral defeat, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas cancelled the first PA elections scheduled in 15 years. Hamas, which expected to win the elections, denounced it as a “coup.” In need of a conflict to divert public discontent, Abbas artificially generated a crisis over Jerusalem. His Fatah party called for "raising the level of confrontation,” and Abbas' spokesman told Palestinians "the battle of all battles is here.” Jerusalem Arabs responded by attacking Jews with rocks and Molotov cocktails. Hamas, Abbas' political rival, could not allow Abbas to lead the battle, so on May 10, 2021, Hamas launched rocket barrages targeting Israeli population centers including Jerusalem. Over the next 11 days, Hamas and Islamic Jihad fired over 4,300 rockets into southern and central Israel from the Gaza Strip, killing 9 Israelis and 3 foreign nationals, and wounding hundreds. In response, Israel launched Operation Guardian of the Walls to target Hamas terror leaders and terror infrastructure in the Gaza Strip. Already in mid-April, a planned eviction of some Palestinian families illegally living in Jewish-owned buildings in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of Jerusalem had led to clashes between Palestinian residents and Israeli police. This dispute provided Palestinians with a pretext for violent rioting. Adding to the crisis, Israeli Arabs started rioting throughout Israel, especially in cities with a mixed Jewish and Arab population. Two Jews were murdered and many were wounded. According to Walla, an independent Israeli news site, 10 synagogues were wholly or partly burned down; fires were set in 112 Jewish homes and 1 Arab home mistaken for a Jewish home; 386 Jewish homes were plundered and 673 were damaged; 849 cars were set ablaze; and there were 5,018 rock-throwing attacks. In response, Jews started attacking Arabs and their properties as well, but on a much smaller scale. No mosques were burned; 13 Arab homes were damaged; 13 Arab-owned cars were burned; and there were 41 rock-throwing attacks by Jews. [Walla, May 16, 2021] The fighting between Israel and Hamas ended with a ceasefire on May 21, 2021.

Headline: “The Fatah Central Committee: Harming the prisoners, regardless of their affiliation, is a blow to Fatah and all the Palestinians”

“The Fatah Movement Central Committee emphasized its absolute rejection and clear condemnation of the Israeli attacks against the brave prisoners, and this is in a desperate attempt by Israel to respond and rehabilitate its image, particularly after the quality blow and the great humiliation that it suffered after six heroic prisoners achieved their freedom from the fortified ‘Gilboa’ Prison (refers to Gilboa Prison escape; see note below -Ed.).

In a statement that it published yesterday, Friday [Sept. 9, 2021], the Fatah Central Committee expressed its complete solidarity with the prisoners who are standing firm behind bars and with the liberated prisoners, and it warned the occupation against the consequences of harassing the prisoners’ movement.”

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Sept. 10, 2021]

Headline: “Al-Jarrad: The occupation was stunned by the unity of the prisoners’ movement and the response in the streets against the Israeli Prison Service’s measures”

“Fatah Movement Secretary in Tulkarem Iyad Al-Jarrad said that… the participation of all elements of our people in the activities of solidarity [with the prisoners] in all the districts is tantamount to a clear message to the occupation authority that our people is united regarding the prisoners’ cause and will not agree to harm befalling them or the six prisoners who dug the freedom tunnel with their hands in spite of the occupation (refers to Gilboa Prison escape; see note below -Ed.).

He said that the fact that the occupation arrested a number of the families and relatives of the six heroes is an act of revenge that contradicts all the international norms and conventions… He also emphasized that every prisoner has the right to attempt to achieve their freedom in the appropriate manner, as their arrest contradicts the law from its very basis.”

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Sept. 11, 2021]

Rawhi Fattouh also serves as Fatah Commissioner of International Relations and Fatah Central Committee member.

Official PA TV newsreader: “The Fatah Movement emphasizes that the prisoners are a red line and it will not allow that they be harmed from any direction, and it noted that our entire people will stand against any action that the occupation state will attempt to carry out against our prisoners. Fatah Revolutionary Council member and official [Fatah] Spokesman Osama Al-Qawasmi expressed Fatah’s pride on its behalf for our heroic prisoners and noted that they have the full right to take their freedom by force, and that their natural place is among their family members and their people and not in the occupation’s cruel prison cells.”

[Official PA TV News, Sept. 8, 2021]

Headline: “Mass-participant processions as a sign of support for the prisoners, confrontations with the occupation in the northern districts of the homeland”

“The Palestinian National Liberation Movement – Fatah called on the masses of our people to come out for an urgent popular uprising (i.e., term used by Palestinians, which also refers to the use of violence and terror) in all the Palestinian cities, villages, and refugee camps as a sign of support for the prisoners (refers to 6 terrorist prisoners including Zakariya Zubeidi who escaped from prison -Ed.). It emphasized that it ‘will stand together with the masses of our people alongside our heroic prisoners and will not leave them along in the battle.’”

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Sept. 9 and 10, 2021]

The terms "peaceful uprising/resistance,” and “popular uprising/resistance" are used by PA leaders at times to refer to peaceful protest and at times to refer to deadly terror attacks and terror waves. For example, ‎Mahmoud Abbas defined as “peaceful popular” the murderous terror during the 2015-2016 ‎terror wave (“The Knife Intifada”), in which 40 people were killed (36 Israelis, 1 Palestinian, 2 Americans and 1 Eritrean) and hundreds wounded in stabbings, shootings, and car ramming attacks. Abbas said: "We want peaceful popular uprising, and that’s what this is." https://palwatch.org/page/9276

Headline: “The [Fatah] Revolutionary Council welcomes what Zakariya Zubeidi and his comrades did in shattering the chains of the prison and the prison guards”

“The Fatah Movement Revolutionary Council saluted Revolutionary Council member Zakariya Zubeidi (i.e., terrorist, responsible for numerous terror attacks) and his prisoner comrades ‘who cleared their path to freedom’ (refers to 6 terrorists who escaped from prison -Ed.)…

In a statement, the council emphasized yesterday, Tuesday [Sept. 7, 2021]: ‘The council welcomes with honor and pride what brother fighter Zakariya Zubeidi and his comrades did in shattering the chains of the prison and the prison guards.’ …

Fatah emphasized yesterday evening: ‘The prisoners are a red line, and we will not allow them to be harmed in any way.’ …

Through Revolutionary Council member and official Fatah Spokesman Osama Al-Qawasmi, Fatah expressed its pride in our brave prisoners. He emphasized that they have the full right to take their freedom by force, and that their natural place is among their families and their people on the land and under the sun, and not in the Israeli occupation’s cruel prison cells.

Al-Qawasmi said that our heroic prisoners are prisoners of war, and all the sentences that the occupation authorities sentenced them to are invalid sentences that contradict the Geneva Convention (sic., Palestinian terrorists do not fit the definition of prisoners of war). He added that they are fighting for the sake of freedom, human justice, and expelling the Israeli occupation from our homeland and our State of Palestine. He also emphasized that the prison is the natural place of the Israeli war criminals.”

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Sept. 8, 2021]

Headline: “Break-ins [into cells] and oppression in the various prisons, rooms were set on fire in branch 7 of Ketziot Prison”

“The oppression forces and well-armed special units of the occupation army held extensive operations of break-ins [into prison cells] and oppression in a number of the prisons…

The [PLO] Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs demanded… to work immediately to put an end to the Israeli Nazi behavior by the occupation’s Israeli Prison Service and the oppression units at this time…

It said: ‘A continuation of the escalation in this way means a true war within the prisons and detention camps. Harming the lives of our prisoners will only be met with a true confrontation, which will befit the events within the prisons and outside of them. We will not agree to our prisoners becoming prey so that the occupation government and its military forces will hide their defeat against the heroism and determination of six prisoners who broke the security system in the prison of whose fortifications the Israeli Prison Service is most proud’.”

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Sept. 9, 2021]
 

Deputy Director-General of PLO Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs Abd Al-‘Al Al-Anani: “First, the prisoner’s will defeated the prison guard (refers to 6 terrorist prisoners including Zakariya Zubeidi escaping prison; see note below -Ed.). In effect the alleged Israeli security system – this conception fell apart and shattered before the rock of our heroic prisoners’ resolve…

There is the issue of the TV channels and viewing [official] PA TV [in prison] – they are canceling a number of channels so that there will be no monitoring of what is happening or of any information that will reach the prisoners about what is happening. There is even a new military order from the occupation that rules that even for Arabic media [there is] a ban on publication of any detail regarding the investigations being carried out about the escape. In effect our prisoners are always in a state of unity. And the proof is that the national unity was manifested even in the escape. Our brother fighter Zakariya Zubeidi (i.e., terrorist, responsible for numerous attacks) is one of the symbols of the Fatah Movement, and the brothers, his comrades [who escaped with him] are from the Islamic Jihad. This is proof of how the national status inside the prisons – there are no differences at all. Everyone is living in the same conditions, the same suffering.”

[Official PA TV, Palestine This Morning, Sept. 8, 2021]