JERUSALEM – The Palestinian Authority has defended its decision to name a school after the mastermind of the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre, calling Israel “deluded” for demanding that Palestinians cease to honor “martyrs.”
Last week, the Israeli monitoring group Palestinian Media Watch reported that the PA had named a West Bank school “the Martyr Salah Khalaf School” in memory of the leader of the Black September terrorist group.
Khalaf planned the murders of 11 Israeli athletes and also played a role in the 1973 takeover of the American embassy in Khartoum, Sudan, in which two American diplomats and a Belgian envoy were killed.
After Ofir Gendelman, Arabic spokesman for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, slammed the decision, District Governor of Tulkarem Issam Abu Bakr responded that celebrating murderers is part of Palestinian culture.
“The occupation [i.e., Israel] is deluded if it thinks that the Palestinian people can change its culture and forget its leaders, martyrs Yasser Arafat, Khalil Al-Wazir (Abu Jihad), Salah Khalaf, and a great number of the fighters who sacrificed their blood for the freedom, independence, and establishment of the independent Palestinian state whose capital is Jerusalem,” Abu Bakr was quoted as saying in the independent PA news agency Ma’an.
According to PA newspaper Al-Hayyat Al-Jadida, Abu Bakr “emphasized the importance of the project of building the school named after Martyr Salah Khalaf, in order to commemorate the memory of this great national fighter.”
The cornerstone ceremony was attended by several PA officials.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party also praised the massacre, stating that it showed “the courage and power of the Palestinian resistance fighter” – even though none of the victims were armed.
The school is the fourth to be named after Khalaf; the other three are in Hamas-ruled Gaza.