The Palestinian shaheed culture and its Influence on terrorism: a stabbing attack in the central bus station in Jerusalem as a case study.

"The first good news." A notice issued after the stabbing attack in the central bus station in Jerusalem (Nur al-Watan, a Hamas-affiliated Twitter feed, December 10, 2017).

Yassin Abu al-Qara'a (Facebook page of Fatah, December 10, 2017).

Yassin Abu al-Qara'a (Facebook page of Fatah, December 10, 2017).

Senior Hamas figure Mahmoud al-'Alul at the closing ceremony of the al-T'aish youth camp in Jericho, dedicated to the memory of Dalal al-Mughrabi (Facebook page of Mahmoud al-'Alul, March 12, 2017).

Senior Hamas figure Mahmoud al-'Alul at the closing ceremony of the al-T'aish youth camp in Jericho, dedicated to the memory of Dalal al-Mughrabi (Facebook page of Mahmoud al-'Alul, March 12, 2017).

Overview
  • On December 10, 2018, during the Palestinian protests following Trump’s declaration of recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel, a stabbing attack was carried out in the central bus station in Jerusalem. It was a lone wolf attack carried out by a 24 year-old Palestinian from the region of Nablus. A security guard securing the entrance of the bus station was critically wounded.
  • Interrogation of the terrorist revealed he had been influenced to carry out the attack by incitement on the social networks after Trump’s declaration of American recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The interrogation also revealed that before the attack he wrote a “will” in which he quoted texts from Palestinian Authority (PA) textbooks (Israel Security Agency information, December 28, 2017). A few hours before the attack he posted a message to his Facebook page indicating his readiness to sacrifice himself for the Palestinian homeland and al-Aqsa mosque.
  • Studies done on PA textbooks, including research by Dr. Arnon Groiss and Dr. Ronny Shaked from the Truman Institute of the Hebrew University,[1] indicate that PA textbooks glorify the shaheeds and their terrorist attacks, turning them into role models for Palestinian youth. The textbooks clearly reflect the deeply rooted culture of shaheed glorification manifested in their extensive commemoration, in many instances also carried out by the PA itself. That includes naming schools after them, summer camps, sports competitions, streets, city squares, and holding memorial days and other events to commemorate them. The social networks are incorporated into inculcating Palestinian youth with shaheed culture.

Many generations of Palestinians have been reared on shaheed culture, including the present one, which plays a key role in popular terrorism. It leads to hatred for State of Israel and the Jewish people and fuels terrorism, as was evidenced by the stabbing attack in the central bus station in Jerusalem.

The stabbing attack in the central bus station
  •   On December 10, 2017, a stabbing attack was carried out at the entrance to the central bus station in Jerusalem on Jaffa Road. A security guard was stabbed and critically wounded. The terrorist was detained by a civilian and a policeman, and taken for interrogation.
"The first good news." A notice issued after the stabbing attack in the central bus station in Jerusalem   A Palestinian stabs an Israeli security guard at the entrance to the central bus station in Jerusalem (picture from a security camera video). (Facebook page of QudsN, December 10, 2017).
Right: A Palestinian stabs an Israeli security guard at the entrance to the central bus station in Jerusalem (picture from a security camera video). (Facebook page of QudsN, December 10, 2017).
Left: “The first good news.” A notice issued after the stabbing attack in the central bus station in Jerusalem
(Nur al-Watan, a Hamas-affiliated Twitter feed, December 10, 2017).
  • The Palestinian media reported the terrorist was Yassin Yussuf Hafez Abu al-Qara’a, 24, from the al-Fara’ refugee camp, north of Nablus (Watan TV, December 10, 2017). He was reportedly affiliated with Fatah. His retired father was a general in the Palestinian security forces. Other relatives have also served as officers in the Palestinian security forces (nnpress, December 11, 2017).
  • Several hours before he carried out the attack the terrorist posted on his Facebook page that, “We will march along the path of Allah to fly [our] flag… And dedicate [our] power to al-Aqsa [mosque], and blood will flow from us… Our blood is cheap for you, our homeland, and for the sanctity of our al-Aqsa [mosque].” Fatah’s official Facebook page posted a picture and information about the terrorist. Many Palestinians responded with sympathy and admiration for the attack, praising the terrorist who carried it out.
Encouragement from surfers on Fatah's Facebook page (Facebook page of Fatah, December 10, 2017).   Yassin Abu al-Qara'a (Facebook page of Fatah, December 10, 2017).
Right: Yassin Abu al-Qara’a (Facebook page of Fatah, December 10, 2017). Left: Encouragement from surfers on Fatah’s Facebook page (Facebook page of Fatah, December 10, 2017).

The Israel Security Agency reported that the interrogation of the terrorist revealed that he carried out the attack after being influenced by incitement appearing on the social networks in the wake of the declaration by Donald Trump that America recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Interrogation also revealed that before he carried out the attack he wrote a “will.” The wording of the will, he said, was taken from a quote about shaheeds found in PA school textbooks (Israel Security Agency information, December 28, 2017).

Shaheeds as they are represented in textbooks
  • A comprehensive study was recently published about textbooks used in Palestinian schools. The study was written by Dr. Arnon Groiss and Dr. Ronny Shaked from the Truman Institute of the Hebrew University. The findings of the study, which corroborated those of other studies, indicated that only in rare instances did the textbooks directly advocate terrorist attacks against Israel. However, there was indirect support for terrorist attacks against Israel, manifested by the glorification of death as a shaheed (martyr for the sake of Allah), and of those who had been killed as shaheeds or imprisoned by Israel, even if their specific terrorist attacks were not mentioned. Those topics appear in textbooks at all levels, including elementary school. They prepare the students, emotionally and mentally, for participation in a violent struggle whose objective is to destroy the State of Israel (defined vaguely as “the liberation of occupied Palestine”).
  • The topic of the shaheeds appears in many textbooks in various subjects. The books glorify as shaheeds those killed while carrying out terrorist attacks. The following are examples taken from the English version of the Groiss-Shaked study:
  • A poem called “The Shaheed” in a 7th grade textbook glorifies the shaheeds and their “noble death,” “men’s death.” The poem specifically encourages the student to aspire to death as a shaheed (Our Beautiful Language, Part 1, page 75). Stanzas from the poem are used as exercises in several textbook. Lines from the poem include the following (ITIC emphasis throughout):

I see my killing without my stolen right
And without my country as something desirable
Hearing [weapon’s] clash is pleasant to my ear
And the flow of blood gladdens my soul…

By your life! This is a men’s death [sic]
And whoever wishes a noble death – this is it.”

Our Beautiful Language, textbook for the 7th grade, Part 1, page 75.

  • A poem called “Palestine” calls for jihad and has a similar theme (Reading and Texts, 8th grade, Part 1 (2015) page 44)

“O my brother, if my blood flows on [Palestine’s] soil and the hand closes on its pebbles…
Kiss a martyr who called its name and fell as a martyr.”

  • And from another poem:

If I fall take my place, O my comrade in struggle
Carry your weapon and do not be afraid of my blood that flows from the weapon

Look at my lips that closed on the winds’ rashness
I did not die; I am still calling you beyond the wounds”
(Linguistic Sciences, Grade 9, Part 1 (2015) page 14)

  • A language exercise with the shaheed theme: “I swear: I shall continue walking the martyrs’ path.” (Linguistic Sciences, 10th grade (2015) page 93)
  • A new element in textbooks published in 2017 is the commemoration and glorification of Palestinian terrorist Dalal al-Mughrabi. It appears in at least two books. In one Dalal al-Mughrabi is represented as a shaheed of Arab-Muslim history in Palestine (The Arabic Language, 5th grade, Part 1, page 14). According to the other, she commanded “the self-sacrifice attack called ‘Deir Yassin’ on the coast of Palestine [i.e., the Coastal Road Massacre] in 1978, which killed more than 30 soldiers [sic] (Social Studies, 9th grade, Part 1, page 74).[2]
  • Dalal al-Mughrabi was a Fatah terrorist who, on March 11, 1978, participated in the Coastal Road Massacre, in which 35 passengers[3] were killed and 71 wounded, 12 of them children. Since then she has become a national heroine and a symbol of the Palestinian armed struggle. The PA and the Fatah Movement systematically glorify her (calling her “the bride of Palestine”), magnify the importance of the deadly attack she participated in (“the heroic victory”) and commemorate her in various ways.
  • Particular emphasis is put on commemorating Dalal al-Mughrabi among Palestinian youth. Schools are named for her, as are summer camps, sporting events, streets, and squares in towns and cities, including a square in Ramallah. Glorifying Dalal al-Mughrabi is part of the wider phenomenon of glorifying the shaheeds of all the terrorist organizations. It turned Dalal al-Mughrabi (and others) into a role model and legitimizes terrorism against Israel.
A picture of Dalal al-Mughrabi appearing on a Fatah notice issued to commemorate the 53rd anniversary of its founding (Facebook page of Fatah, December 30, 2017)   Senior Hamas figure Mahmoud al-'Alul at the closing ceremony of the al-T'aish youth camp in Jericho, dedicated to the memory of Dalal al-Mughrabi (Facebook page of Mahmoud al-'Alul, March 12, 2017).
Right: Senior Hamas figure Mahmoud al-‘Alul at the closing ceremony of the al-T’aish youth camp in Jericho, dedicated to the memory of Dalal al-Mughrabi (Facebook page of Mahmoud al-‘Alul, March 12, 2017).
Left: A picture of Dalal al-Mughrabi appearing on a Fatah notice issued to commemorate the 53rd anniversary of its founding (Facebook page of Fatah, December 30, 2017)

[1] For further information, see the December 28, 2017 bulletin, "Schoolbooks of the Palestinian Authority (PA): the attitude to the Jews, to Israel and to peace."
[2] For further information about the Dalal al-Mughrabi cult in the PA, see the March 23, 2017 bulletin, "Glorifying shaheeds who carried out deadly terrorist attacks and turning them into role models: Dalal al-Mughrabi, a Fatah terrorist who participated in the 1978 Coastal Road Massacre, as a case study."
[3] Not soldiers, as stated in the Palestinian textbooks.