- On March 14, 2018, a few days before the lethal stabbing attack carried out on Hagai Street in the Old City of Jerusalem (see Appendix), Mahmoud Abbas hosted a festive reception in his office in Ramallah for Rajaa’i Abd al-Karim Hadad. Hadad is a Fatah operative who served a twenty-year prison term in Israel for his participation in a shooting attack carried out on Hagai Street in 1997. During the reception, which was extensively covered by the Palestinian media, Mahmoud Abbas congratulated the terrorist on his release and stressed that the issue of the Palestinians imprisoned in Israeli jails is at the top of the Palestinian leadership’s priorities.
- Gavriel Hirschberg was the Israeli killed on November 20, 1997, on Hagai Street (which leads from the Nablus Gate to the Western Wall). He and a friend were en route to the Ateret Kohanim yeshiva when they were shot at by terrorists who using an automatic weapon. Gavriel Hirschberg was killed instantly and his friend was critically wounded.
Right: Gavriel Hirschberg, killed in a shooting attack on Hagai Street in the Old City of Jerusalem, November 20, 1997 (website for the Commemoration of the Victims of Palestinian Violence and Terrorism in Israel, March 21, 2018). Left: The terrorist, Rajaa’i Hadad, embraced by Mahmoud Abbas during a reception held for him at Mahmoud Abbas’ office in Ramallah (Wafa, March 14, 2018).
Reception held in Mahmoud Abbas’ office for freed terrorist who carried out a shooting attack on Hagai Street in Jerusalem
- On March 14, 2018, Mahmoud Abbas hosted a reception in his office in Ramallah for Rajaa’i Abd al-Karim Hadad, 40, a terrorist released from an Israeli jail after serving a term of 20 years. Rajaa’i Hadad, who lived in the Old City of east Jerusalem, was an operative of the terrorist squad that carried out a shooting attack on Hagai Street in 1997, killing yeshiva student Gavriel Hirschberg. Another yeshiva student with him at the time was critically wounded.
- The reception held in Mahmoud Abbas’ office was attended by senior PA, Fatah and PLO figures. Among them were Tayib Abd al-Rahim, secretary general of the office of Mahmoud Abbas; Saleh Rafat, a member of the PLO’s Executive Committee; Intesar Abu ‘Amara, Mahmoud Abbas’ office manager; Adnan Ghait, a member of Fatah’s Revolutionary Council; Mu’tassem Teem, director of the Jerusalem department in Mahmoud Abbas’ office; and Nasser Qaws, director of the Jerusalem Prisoners Club. Mahmoud Abbas congratulated Rajaa’i Hadad on his release from jail, reiterating that the issue of the Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails is at the top of the Palestinian leadership’s priorities (Wafa, March 14, 2018). The reception was widely covered by the Palestinian media and Mahmoud Abbas documented it on his Facebook page.
Right: Mahmoud Abbas meets with Fatah operative Rajaa’i Hadad after his release from an Israel jail during a reception held in Abbas’ office in Ramallah (Wafa, March 14, 2018). Left: Posting to Mahmoud Abbas’ Facebook page with a picture of Abbas and Hadad embracing. It received 636 likes (Facebook page of Mahmoud Abbas, March 14, 2018).
- After the meeting with Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, Fatah held a reception for the freed terrorist in al-Ram (north of Jerusalem). It was well-attended and widely covered by the Fatah and PA media. Present was Jamal Muheisen, a member of Fatah’s Central Committee and responsible for Fatah’s Bureau of Mobilization and Organization in Judea and Samaria (Facebook page of Palestinian TV, March 17, 2018). Interviewed by Palestinian TV, Muheisen said he was happy to participate in the reception for a “knight of Fatah” who spent twenty years in an Israeli jail for defending his people and their freedom. He congratulated the terrorist on his release, saying that the reception was meant to send the message to Israel that the issue of the prisoners and shaheeds is a “red line” for Fatah (Facebook page of Palestinian TV, March 17, 2018).
The reception held in al-Ram for Palestinian terrorist Rajaa’i Hadad upon his release from an Israeli jail (Facebook page of Palestinian TV, March 17, 2018).
Jamal Muheisen, a member of Fatah’s Central Committee, at the
reception in al-Ram (Facebook page of Palestinian TV, March 17, 2018).
Fatah sign reading, “The Fatah Movement, Jerusalem district, Old City region, extends a warm welcome to freed prisoner Rajaa’i Abd al-Karim Yusuf Hadad for his release from the occupation prison” (Facebook page of Palestinian TV, March 17, 2018).
Fatah support for the lethal stabbing attack carry out on Hagai Street in the Old City
- On March 18, 2018, four days after the reception held for the freed Palestinian terrorist, an Israeli civilian was killed in a stabbing attack on Hagai Street in the Old City Jerusalem. The terrorist who carried out the attack was Abd al-Rahman Maher Bani Fadhel, 28, from the village of Aqraba, southeast of Nablus. He had a permit to enter Jerusalem to look for work.
- The official Fatah Facebook page posted a picture of the terrorist. It was accompanied by responses of support and encouragement from Facebook users including “Allah is with you and will preserve you,” “Allah will have mercy on you, oh hero,” “honor and glory to the shaheeds” (official Fatah Facebook page, March 18, 2018). The PA did not officially respond to the attack. The Palestinian news agency Wafa, which is directly subordinate to the office of PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas, issued a vague, misleading report about 45 minutes after the attack, referring to “the death of a person by occupation gunfire in the Old City of Jerusalem” (Wafa, March 18, 2018). No mention was made of the fact that he had stabbed an Israeli civilian to death.