The Palestinian Authority has hailed a terrorist who killed four Israeli soldiers on Sunday as a “martyr,” signalling not only its approval of the fatal attack but that his widow will be eligible to receive a monthly stipend, Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) reported on Tuesday.
The official PA daily reported that the attack was “a car ramming operation” and that the killer, Fadi al-Qunbar from eastern Jerusalem, “died as a Shahid,” which PMW explained is used to describe “a Martyr who died for Allah.” By referring to al-Qunbar as a martyr, “the PA is telling its people that murdering the Israeli youths was sanctioned by Islam and seen as positive Islamic behavior.”
Official PA television also called al-Qunbar, who Israeli officials believe may have been a supporter of the Islamic State, a “Shahid” seven times.
This description was echoed by al-Qunbar’s own family, with his sister saying after the attack: “Praise be to God that he became a martyr. It’s the most beautiful martyrdom.”
Under PA law, the widows of “Shahids” are entitled to receive monthly stipends for the rest of their lives. The family of a martyr is eligible to receive a minimum of 1,400 shekels each month, while the wife receives an additional 400 shekels. She also receives 200 shekels monthly per child, as well as an additional 300 shekels if she is a resident of Jerusalem. In total, al-Qunbar’s wife is set to receive 2,900 shekels ($760) per month for the rest of her life from the attack. Within the next several months, she will also receive a one-time payment of 6,000 shekels ($1,580).
The PA’s fund for “martyrs” had a yearly budget of $170 million in 2016, according to Palestinian figures cited by the Times of Israel. The fund issues monthly payments to some 35,000 Palestinian families, including relatives of suicide bombers. The lowest salaries issued by the fund are equivalent to the average monthly wages Palestinians in the West Bank earn for nonviolent work, and about 40 percent higher than the average wage in the Gaza Strip.
PMW also observed that PA President Mahmoud Abbas failed to condemn Sunday’s attack, in contrast to his response to car-ramming attacks in France and Germany. Following last summer’s truck ramming attack in Nice, which killed 84 people, Abbas told French President Francois Hollande that he “condemned this cowardly act in the strongest terms.” Similarly, following the attack at a Berlin Christmas market last month, which left 12 people dead, Abbas again said that he “condemned this cowardly act in the strongest terms.”
Meanwhile, Palestinian factions including Fatah, the political party headed by Abbas, and Hamas, the terrorist group that rules the Gaza strip, praised Sunday’s attack — a response that stood in marked contrast to much of the rest of the world.
The United States, European Union, and even the United Nations Security Council condemned the attack shortly after it occurred, while Nickolay Mladenov, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, paid tribute to the victims of the attack at a memorial on Wednesday. “We need to stand united against this rise of violent extremism,” Mladenov said at the event. “Terrorism will never be tolerated. There are no excuses.”
A number of European cities have also expressed their solidarity with Israel, with Berlin illuminating the Brandenburg gate with an Israeli flag on Monday. That same day, Ahmed Aboutaleb, the Moroccan-born Muslim mayor of Rotterdam, flew an Israeli flag on city hall in solidarity. On Tuesday, the image of an Israeli flag was projected onto Paris’ city hall, also to commemorate the victims of the attack.
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