TEL AVIV – Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah movement declared a Palestinian terrorist who stabbed a 13-year-old Israeli-American girl to death while she was sleeping in her bed to be a “martyr.”
In two separate posts on Thursday, the official Fatah Facebook page referred to Muhammad Taraireh, 17, as a “shahid” (martyr). In one, a photo of Taraireh was posted with the caption: “Image of the martyr Mohamed Taraireh, who carried out the operation today that resulted in the death of a settler and the injury of another settler.”
Fatah also posted a photo of the blood-soaked bedroom of the victim, Hallel Ariel.
The Palestinian Authority’s official news agency, WAFA, also referred to Taraireh as a “shahid” in its report of the incident. The report’s headline read: “Israeli Soldiers Kill Teenager Involved in Alleged Stabbing Near Hebron.”
“Israeli soldiers Thursday killed a 17-year-old from Bani Naim, east of Hebron, under the pretext of carrying out a stabbing attack in an illegal Israeli settlement on the outskirts of Hebron south of the West Bank,” WAFA reported.
“Security sources told WAFA that armed Israeli soldiers opened fire at Mohammad Mahmoud Taraireh for allegedly stabbing an Israeli settler.”
WAFA continued: “Israeli and international human rights groups repeatedly denounced Israel’s shoot-to-kill policy by Israeli forces, which resulted in the death of many Palestinians who did not constitute a threat or who could have been apprehended without the use of lethal force.”
In accordance with PA law, Taraireh’s family will begin receiving a monthly stipend paid to the families of all “martyrs.”
The mother of the terrorist told a local Hebron news network how proud she was of her “heroic” son.
“My son is a hero. He made me proud. My son died as a martyr defending Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds, [my son] has joined the Martyrs before him, and he is not better than them. Allah willing, all of them will follow this path, all the youth of Palestine. Allah be praised,” she said.
State Department spokesman John Kirby confirmed Hallel’s U.S. citizenship and condemned the murder.
“This brutal act of terrorism is simply unconscionable,” he said. “We offer our heartfelt condolences, of course, to her family and to her friends.”
“As we’ve said many times, there’s just absolutely no justification for terrorism,” Kirby added.
In a video message, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu vowed to “not let barbarism defeat humanity.”
“You don’t murder a sleeping child for peace. You don’t slit a little girl’s throat to protest a policy you don’t like. You do this because you’ve been brainwashed. You’ve been brainwashed by a warped ideology that teaches you that this child isn’t human,” he said.
“There’s no middle ground between beautiful Hallel and her unspeakably evil murderer,” the prime minister added.
Netanyahu also called on PA leaders to “clearly and unequivocally condemn this vicious murder and take immediate action to stop the incitement.”
“Enlightened nations must join in this demand,” Netanyahu added. “They must pressure the one who heads the network of incitement that leads to the murder of children in their beds and not the State of Israel, which is working to protect its children and its citizens.”
In a separate attack on the same day, a Palestinian stabbed and wounded an Israeli man in his 40s and a 62-year-old woman outside a market in the coastal city of Netanya.
The wave of Palestinian violence that began in the fall and includes stabbings, car rammings, and shootings has claimed 39 Israeli lives so far.
When the upsurge first broke out, Abbas declared in an interview on PA TV, “We welcome every drop of blood spilled in Jerusalem. This is pure blood, clean blood, blood on its way to Allah. With the help of Allah, every shahid [martyr] will be in heaven, and every wounded will get his reward.”
Abbas later described the wave of knife and gun attacks as a “justified popular uprising.”