Rabbi Meir Avshalom Hai -- a 45-year old Israeli and father of seven children - was killed in a drive-by shooting last Thursday. The Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, part of Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah movement, took responsibility for the killing. On Friday night, Israeli forces located and killed three of the terrorists involved in the attack. The fourth surrendered to the PA police.
The response of the PA has been unequivocal support and backing for the terrorists. Since Friday, the leadership of the PA, the heads of Fatah, the heads of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades and the PA-controlled media have continuously portrayed the killers as Palestinian heroes and Shahids -- holy Martyrs -- while describing Israel's killing of the three terrorists as "murder in cold blood" and "assassination."
PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas declared the killers "Shahids" (holy Martyrs) and sent his personal emissary to visit the families:
"Secretary General of the Presidents Bureau, Tayeb Abd Al-Rahim, conveyed condolences on behalf of President Mahmoud Abbas to the residents of Nablus and to the families of the three Shahids [Martyrs] for the Martyrdom of their sons, who were assassinated by Israeli occupation forces yesterday morning. He conveyed to the fighting families letters of condolences from the President [Abbas] and updated them as to [Abbas's] decision to declare them as Shahids [Martyrs] of the Palestinian revolution..."
Tayeb Abd Al-Rahim: "Without doubt, what the [Israeli] occupation authorities have carried out is a wild and barbaric act and a deliberate, malicious assassination in cold blood."
[PA TV (Fatah) News, Dec. 27, 2009]
PA Prime Minster Salam Fayyad went even further, personally visiting the families of the terrorists along with other senior PA officials.
"Prime Minister visits Nablus and conveys condolences to the families of the Shahids (Martyrs). Prime Minister Dr. Salam Fayyad today visited the city of Nablus in the wake of the Israeli military operation, and presented condolences to the families of the three Martyrs who were murdered by the occupation forces.
Dr. Fayyad was accompanied by Internal Affairs Minister Dr. Said Abu Ali, leaders of the security agencies, and Police Director-General Major General Hazem Atallah, and they visited the house of mourning, which was held in the Trade Unions compound in the city... The Prime Minister condemned the Israeli military operation in the city."
[WAFA news agency, Dec. 26, 2009]
The Fatah movement is glorifying the terrorists:
"Mahmoud Al-Aloul, member of the Fatah Central Committee, said that the occupation murdered these three young men as well as another three in Gaza, in cold blood. He described them as '[military] commanders, brave heroes, and fighters.'"
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Dec. 27, 2009]
PA TV focused on the Fatah poster (above), signed with condolences of PA Chairman Abbas, honoring the three terrorists. The following is the text on the poster with pictures of the terrorists:
"With honor and admiration to those who are more honored than all of us."
[Reference to supreme honor of Shahids - Martyrs in Islam]
"The Palestine Liberation Organization, Fatah, accompanies to their wedding:"
[Reference to Islamic belief that Martyrs marry virgins in Paradise]
The Martyr, Commander, Hero: Rassan Abu Serah
The Martyr, Commander, Hero: Ra'ed Al Aschregi
The Martyr, Commander, Hero: Anan Sobh
The Director General of the Presidency expresses condolences to the Nablus Martyrs - in the name of the President [Abbas]
It's important to note that in condemning Israel's killing of the terrorists, the PA is not denying that those killed were responsible for the murder of Rabbi Hai:
"The Shahid Imad Mughniyeh group [named after Hezbollah terrorist] of the [Fatah's] Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades has denounced the [Israeli] crime of the assassination in Nablus, killing three Fatah activists, including Anan Sobh, who, according to the [Fatah's Al-Aqsa] Brigades, planned the Tulkarem operation which led to the death of the settler in a shooting operation."
[Ma'an News Agency, Dec. 26, 2009]
In the official announcement right after the terror attack, Fatah took responsibility, while calling the killers "Jihad Fighters" and warning of more "quality operations:"
"A group announcing that it belonged to the Fatah's Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades claimed responsibility for the shooting... 'The Jihad Fighters confirmed that the person who was in the car had taken a direct hit, and praise to Allah - the Jihad Fighters escaped unharmed...' The announcement said that 'this action is part of a series of operations; you can expect more quality operations [terror attacks] from us.'"
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Dec. 25, 2009]
After the terrorists were killed the Fatah changed from threatening more "quality operations" to warning that it would avenge the killing of the "Jihad Fighters:"
Headline: "The occupation murders three residents of Nablus in cold blood... the President's [Abbas's] Bureau denounces the Israeli crime..."
"The [Fatah's] Al-Aqsa Brigades announced: 'By the act of murdering an elite group of our Jihad Fighters in Nablus and in Gaza, the occupation is opening for itself the gates of Hell.' They threatened that 'our activists will not stand idly by while the blood of Jihad Fighters is spilled... The enemy will hear nothing from us but the language of blood and fire, and our Shahada [Martyrdom] Seekers will go out to [the enemy] from every place in order to turn his days into nights, and he will come to regret his crime. We shall not sleep over the blood of our Jihad Fighters, and our response will be swift... We affirm the continuation of our choice of blood and Martyrdom. The only choice, in the face of the repeated attacks against our people in the towns and villages and refugee camps of the occupied homeland. We shall turn the spilled blood of the Martyrs and the commanders into a torch of fury that will burn the forces of evil and aggression."
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Dec. 27, 2009]