Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lambasted Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas over a condolence letter Abbas sent the family of the man Israeli police say shot a Jewish activist at least three times at point-blank range last week.
Muataz Hijazi, whom police said shot Rabbi Yehuda Glick, was killed in a shootout at his home on Thursday after he fired on an anti-terror police squad that came to arrest him.
AFP/Getty Images/Thomas Coex
Israeli media reported that Abbas sent a letter Hijazi's family over the weekend. Hijazi also served 11 years in Israeli prison for membership in the Islamic Jihad terrorist group and assaulting a prison guard.
The Times of Israel reported that Abbas described Hijazi as a “martyr” and wrote: “With anger, we have received the news of the vicious assassination crime committed by the terrorists of the Israeli occupation army against [your] son Mu’taz Ibrahim Khalil Hijazi, who will go to heaven as a martyr defending the rights of our people and its holy places.”
Abbas also vowed that Hijazi’s death would be added to the “crimes of the Israeli occupation army against our people since the nakba (in 1948),” the Jerusalem Post reported.
“This act won’t intimidate our people, but would increase its steadfastness in its homeland,” Abbas wrote.
Netanyahu said in a statement Sunday: “While we’re trying to calm tempers, Abu Mazen [Abbas] sends a condolence letter for the death of someone who attempted to commit a despicable murder.”
Glick was shot after giving a speech about Jewish rights to pray on the Temple Mount, the religion's holiest site.
“It’s time the international community condemn him for such deeds,” he said.
Israel Radio Arab Affairs correspondent Gal Berger tweeted a copy of the letter, which Abbas' spokesman confirmed was authentic.
לפי המופץ בפייסבוק זהו נוסח מברק התנחומים ששיגר עבאס למשפחת המתנקש ביהודה גליק אך לנוסח עצמו לא קיבלתי אימות לפי שעה pic.twitter.com/PvYG6fb9nB— Gal Berger גל ברגר (@galberger) November 2, 2014
Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman wrote on Facebook that the letter “testifies more than anything else to the fact that Abu Mazen [Abbas] is indeed a partner: a partner for terror, a partner to terrorists, a partner of murderers.”
Liberman described Abbas’ move as “open support for terror and encouragement of further murders” and said Abbas is “leading the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to a violent, frightful place.”
Israel Radio also reported that Palestinian newspaper obituary pages were filled with condolence messages to Hijazi's family, including one from senior Fatah Party official Jibril Rajoub.
Israeli officials have accused Abbas of inciting violence in Jerusalem for weeks. On Thursday, Abbas described Israel’s decision to close the Temple Mount for one day to both Jewish and Muslim worshippers a “declaration of war” on Palestinians.
In a speech last month, Abbas said Jews must be barred from the Temple Mount using “any means” necessary, a call Israeli politicians viewed as promoting violence against Jews.
“It is not enough to say the settlers came, but they must be barred from entering the compound by any means,” Abbas said in the speech, according to Arutz Sheva. “This is our Aqsa [mosque on the Temple Mount] … and they have no right to enter it and desecrate it.”