In an interview with JerusalemOnline, Mudar Zahran, the leader of the Palestinian community in Jordan and a prominent journalist, explained Palestinian reactions to the murder of the three abducted boys. He stressed they were mainly referred to as settlers and sometimes as soldiers.

Mudar Zahran, the leader of the Palestinian community in Jordan and a prominent journalist, noted in an interview with JerusalemOnline that the Palestinian media routinely referred to the three murdered boys as “settlers” and in some cases, also as “soldiers.”   The Palestinian news agency Wafa condemned Israel for collectively punishing Palestinians, but did not denounce the murder of the three Jewish youngsters.   They merely referred to them as “the three settlers” that disappeared. 

Fatah’s official facebook page, however, referred to them as “the three killed soldiers, whose bodies according to Israeli claims, were found in Hebron.” Two weeks ago, Fatah had celebrated the kidnapping of the three boys with a caricature posted to their facebook page showing three mice with Stars of David attached to a fishing hook. According to an article Zahran wrote in the Gatestone Institute, the official PA daily had written that “Israel was behind the kidnapping,” alleging that the three were soldiers. He noted that the kidnappings were celebrated by average Palestinians with glorifications of the kidnappers and the passing out of sweets.

Now, Zahran notes the celebrations have died down within the Palestinian Authority, but he stresses that this is mainly because they are now “afraid of the Israeli reactions.” Nevertheless, references to the three boys as soldiers tend to be retweeted more than any other mention of them within the Palestinian Authority.

Zahran emphasized that Palestinians in Judea and Samaria are not only receiving indoctrination from their own media, as the Jordanian media also has a wide audience there. He explained that the Jordanian media covered the incident even worse than the Palestinian media did. According to Zahran, “The Jordanian media, which is well read in the West Bank, referred to them as Zionist soldiers and one of the king’s personal friends and the wife of his own personal doctor who sits at the king’s palace named Deema Farrag claimed that the ‘bodies of the Zionist soldiers have been recovered.’ This is one of the most supported and promoted media individuals by the king and his media.”

Zahran did note that there have been some Palestinian commentators who condemned the murder of the three youngsters, emphasizing that they were too young to die. For example, Ray Hanania wrote on his facebook page: “If we can’t find the courage to say we are sorry and sad when the victims are our enemies — and in this case the children of our enemies — how can we expect anyone to be sorry for us, or for us to be sorry when the victims are ours? It’s principle people! Apply principle. Don’t look at victims as being Jews or Arabs. Look at them as innocent victims and show the moral courage to stand up and say what needs to be said. The killing of the three Israeli teenagers is so tragic I am saddened and so sorry that this happened. If you can’t find your humanity, you can never have justice or peace!” However, Zahran noted that such voices were very much a minority and were quickly suppressed.

As Zahran wrote in the Gatestone Institute, “Keep in mind that the PA exerts extreme monitoring and control over social media used by Palestinians in the West Bank. A Palestinian man was jailed for six months for liking an anti-PA post on Facebook. The PA, therefore, is fully responsible for encouraging the celebrations of the kidnappings over Palestinian social media.”

In conclusion, Zahran stressed, “My comment as the leader of the Palestinians in Jordan, which numbers 6.2 million people is it is with our sincere sense of sadness and disgust that we extend our condolences to the families of the killed children and to Prime Minister Netanyahu, as well as to the Israeli people. We are forced to remind everyone that the death of these young men is yet another result of the Oslo Agreement and its time to consider different options.”

Zahran called on the Israeli leadership to hold the Palestinian leadership within the Palestinian Authority responsible for what happened: “As much as it is a tragedy, it’s a chance for all of us, Israelis and Palestinians, to have Oslo ended forever. Everyone in Judea and Samaria is better off under Israeli sovereignty and now in Jordan, while we have the Israeli Army protecting us from ISIS, we have another reason to see that Israel’s power is the only guarantee of safety and security for Palestinians in Jordan and inside Israel.”