Palestinian Authority officials and offical Palestinian Authority media today universally condemned the Israeli army’s killing last night of five armed members of the Islamic Jihad terror organization that has carried out mass murder attacks in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv in recent months.

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas (nicknamed Abu-Mazen) and Palestinian prime minister Ahmad Qreia (nicknamed Abu-‘Ala) loudly condemned “the Israeli crime,” but they were silent about the Palestinian stabbing attack in Jerusalem in which one Jewish yeshiva student was murdered and two wounded.

In its morning news round-up, Abbas’s state-run Voice of Palestine radio actually called the dead and wounded students “Israeli settlers” [Arabic: “mustawtaneen Isra’ilyyeen]-a symbolic way of saying that they were legitimate targets for what Palestinians call “resistance operations.”

“We will continue to attack Israelis wherever there are still settlers,” asserted Hussein Basht, a leader of Islamic Jihad, in an interview on Abu Dhabi satellite television, stressing the argument of Jihad and the Hamas organization that attacking Israelis is still justified despite the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza.

The Jewish yeshiva students, who study at the Mir Yeshiva in the western part of Jerusalem, were attacked by a Palestinian Arab man wielding a huge butcher knife not far from Jaffa Gate, a noted tourist point in Jerusalem.

The unabashed support of the Palestinian Authority and the state-run or state-supported Palestinian media for Jihad was evident in the way that the newspapers, state television and radio all called the men “martyrs” and “citizens,” even though their organization has murdered more than 30 Israeli civilians in recent months.

“ISRAELI ASSASSINATION OF FOUR CITIZENS IN TULKARM CAMP,” headlined the Palestinian daily Al-Hayat al-Jadeeda that is run by Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah organization. [The Palestinian media later announced five Jihad members had died, and Israeli officials said a sixth man, a leader of Hamas, escaped.]

“THE HEROIC MARTYRDOM OF FOUR RESISTERS BY THE BULLETS OF ISRAELI SPECIAL FORCES IN THE TULKARM REFUGEE CAMP,” declared the Palestinian daily Al-Ayyam in a huge red-letter headline atop its front page. Al-Ayyam is also run by the Fatah organization of Dr. Abbas, the chairman of the PLO and the Palestinian Authority.

Today’s Palestinian media treatment was far from being a departure from Palestinian policy. The heroic treatment accorded the dead terrorists-and the Palestinian media acknowledged all the men were Jihad gunmen-has continued largely unabated since Abbas came to power following the death of Yasser Arafat in November last year.

A cartoon in one leading Palestinian paper suggested that the Palestinian fighters had driven the Israelis out of Gaza-like a nail in the foot– and that the pro-al-Qaeda Iraqi “resistance” would do the same to American forces.
[See: ]

While Abbas has periodically removed “martyr videos” from Palestinian television, he has supported the use of other techniques-some of them very sophisticated-that suggest to the Palestinian audience that the “struggle” or even “jihad” has not ended.

Even during the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, the Palestinian leadership and media celebrated the victory of “Palestinian resistance” and “Palestinian steadfastness” over “the Israeli Occupation” and even “the Zionist enemy.”

For example, in a Palestinian television show last week, Palestinian Authority minister of Communications Imad Faluji continually referred to Israel as “the enemy.”

“The members of this Jihad unit were planning further attacks, and some of them had actually been finding shelter inside buildings of the Palestinian Authority,” declared an Col. Roni Noma, commander of the Nahal battalion in Tulkarm in the northern part of the West Bank where Jihad has been most prominent.

“The Palestinian Authority is not doing anything against these units, and we cannot just sit idly by,” declared Col. Noma, who was interviewed by Israel’s Channel 2.

© 2005 Michael Widlanski Associates

[Material may be used with citation]

Dr. Michael Widlanski is a specialist in Arab politics and communication whose doctorate dealt with the Palestinian broadcast media. He is a former reporter, correspondent and editor, respectively, at The New York Times, The Cox Newspapers-Atlanta Constitution, and The Jerusalem Post.