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The escalating Palestinian Authority (PA) crackdown against West Bank residents living under its control is an important story that has largely been ignored by the international media. Seemingly, the plight of ordinary Palestinians is not newsworthy.

Axios, a popular site that offers quick takes on current events, bucked this trend. A piece published on January 12, “Violent arrest in West Bank triggers attack on PA headquarters in Jenin,detailed the internal violence in areas administered by the PA.  

But after reporting on a serious issue that is seldomly highlighted by the media, writer Barak Ravid cites Palestinian officials claiming that the root cause of the phenomenon is youth unemployment, specifically, and the economic situation in the West Bank, more broadly.

The article completely ignores the role that the PA’s ongoing support for and glorification of terrorism plays in fostering a climate of violence.

Rather, in the “Big Picture” section of the piece, the author notes:

Fatah officials said publicly in recent days that the events in Jenin show the need to deal with the growing economic problems in the occupied West Bank, in particular the widespread youth unemployment.

Such a conclusion glosses over the nature of PA President Mahmoud Abbas’ ruling Fatah faction, whose “military” wing, the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, is designated as a terrorist group by the United States, European Union, Canada, Japan, and others. Moreover, inserting into the equation that the West Bank is “occupied” effectively serves to shift blame for the chaotic state of affairs away from Ramallah and onto Israel.

To Axios’ credit, the article notes that the arrest of three Palestinian teenagers by PA police in the West Bank city was “violent,” with Ravid describing the events leading up to “an unprecedented attack by a local militia against the Palestinian Authority headquarters in the city.”

The report makes clear that the incident was “another signal of the PA’s deteriorating control in the occupied West Bank.”

Nevertheless, the references to Fatah leave much to the imagination:

One of the teens was the son of Zakaria Zubeidi, the former local commander of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, the military wing of President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party.

At the same time, hundreds of Fatah members, some of them armed, rallied in Jenin’s refugee camp calling for the release of the three teenagers.

In the above quotes, Fatah is described in muted, passive terms. However, Israelis have for years been victimized by terror perpetrated by Palestinians who were incited to violence by PA and Fatah-controlled social and traditional media.

In August 2021, HonestReporting broke the story of the Western-backed, “moderate” Palestinian Authority and its ruling Fatah faction actively supporting Palestinian rioters from the West Bank village of Beita who burned a makeshift Nazi swastika juxtaposed against a Star of David. These radicals openly admitted that their goal was to “burn you [Israelis] alive.” Additionally, the Hamas terror group claimed as a member at least one person killed in the Beita riots.

While Axios seemingly creates distance between Fatah and the violence taking place inside PA-administered territories, information gathered from public sources suggests that Fatah has been violating its Oslo Accords commitment to take “all measures” to prevent acts of “terrorism, violence or incitement.”

It is no surprise that, as Ravid’s piece notes, West Bank teenagers are involved in violence. The European Union parliament last year condemned the UNRWA for inciting hate and violence in its school textbooks. Also in 2021, a report commissioned by the European Union found that Palestinian Authority textbooks were encouraging violence against Israelis, and included antisemitic messages. The European Union parliament said it would begin to condition the funds received by the UN’s Palestinian refugee agency on the removal of incitement against the Jewish state from Palestinian textbooks.

Meanwhile, the United States charged in its 2020 Country Report on Human Rights Practices report that the “PA Ministry of Education has named at least 31 schools after terrorists and an additional three schools after Nazi collaborators, while at least 41 school names honor ‘martyrs.’”

The hatred that appears in textbooks doesn’t stay there. Over the past few months, there has been a distressing rise in the number of terror attacks in Israel, including the fatal shooting of Eli Kay in Jerusalem’s Old City on November 21. In December of last year, a 14-year-old Palestinian girl suspected of stabbing a Jewish woman in Jerusalem, was found to be in possession of Palestinian Authority textbooks that incited violence against Jews.

Fatah’s plan to radicalize Palestinian youth goes beyond even creating, distributing, and teaching hateful content. The Palestinian Authority is paying “salaries” to jailed terrorists and to the family members of those killed while attempting to perpetrate attacks on Israelis.

The US State Department has acknowledged that the PA had not “terminated payments for acts of terrorism,” a revelation that calls into question the legality of sending US taxpayer dollars to Ramallah. In fact, the 2018 Taylor Force Act restricts, with few exceptions, sending aid to the PA so long as it continues to incentivize violence against Israelis.

The Palestinian Budget Book states that monthly payments must be made from the “Martyrs Fund” to imprisoned Palestinian terrorists and to the families of those killed while perpetrating attacks against Israelis, because the recipients constitute a “fighting sector.” The amount paid increases in proportion to the severity of the crime.

In other words, the more Israeli blood spilled, the higher the Palestinian “salary.”

Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority’s atrocious human rights record inside the territories it administers is essentially ignored by Axios. PA President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah is depicted as little more than an impotent bystander in the latest developments taking place in the West Bank. And Axios is not alone in this regard. A report published by the US government alleging that the Palestinian Authority targeted — and in some cases tortured — participants of the 2019 “Peace to Prosperity” economic workshop in Bahrain has been almost entirely ignored.

As such, Axios correctly describes the events in Jenin as being the “worst in a series of violent incidents in the West Bank over the last several months.” But the piece’s implied reason for the escalation is off the mark.

Axios uncritically cites Fatah’s assertion that economic problems, particularly “widespread youth unemployment,” are closely linked to the violence gripping parts of the West Bank. This contention falls apart once one realizes that for 25 years, international agencies have been providing the PA with the highest per capita funding ever given to a state or population. Yet, the Palestinian leadership has failed to lay the groundwork required to establish a functional state.

Axios nonetheless perpetuates a narrative that automatically blames Israel, going so far as to include a photograph containing the Israeli flag in the story’s cover image.

The author is a contributor to HonestReporting, a Jerusalem-based media watchdog with a focus on antisemitism and anti-Israel bias — where a version of this article first appeared.

Source of original article: Gidon Ben-Zvi / Opinion – (
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