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Comment and Opinion

Fathom Journal: What Palestinian terrorists write on Facebook, by Elhanan Miller

For Bahaa Allyan – who boarded a city bus in Jerusalem on 13 October and shot dead two passengers – the struggle between Palestinians and Israelis playing out in Jerusalem was about more than the perceived threat to the al-Aqsa Mosque. It was a battle over narrative.

On 11 October, two days before he boarded that bus not far from his East Jerusalem village of Jabel Mukabber, the 22-year-old graphic designer was frantically trying to defend the reputation of Israa Jabees, a resident of his neighbourhood. That morning, Jabees had been seriously injured setting of an explosion in her car, apparently intended to detonate a gas canister, having been stopped for inspection by Israeli police en route to Jerusalem. Israeli security services reported finding hand-written notes on her person expressing support for ‘martyrs’, and believe she was on her way to carry out a major terror attack in the heart of the Israeli capital.

But on Allyan’s Facebook page, the story was dramatically different. Based on conversations with Jabees’s family members, he surmised that a malfunction had occurred in her car, causing police to mistake her for a terrorist and shoot her ‘in cold blood.’ For the benefit of friends surprised with his sudden transformation into citizen journalist, he wrote ‘I am posting news on my [Facebook] page due to the absence of real media, and also to refute Hebrew media, which some consider credible beyond doubt. Without real media, our truth will be lost.’ Such claims – that Palestinian perpetrators who are injured or killed whilst carrying out attacks are in fact victims of unprovoked assault or murder by Israelis – are common in Palestinian discourse.

For observers of the recent round of violence in Israel and the Palestinian Territories, and increasingly for Israeli security services, Facebook provides an indispensable window into the hearts and minds of Palestinian terrorists. It sheds light on the motivations that caused them to take a knife, gun or car; to kill and often be killed. In the case of Bahaa Allyan, it reveals that he was frustrated not only with Israeli media, but also with the lack of patriotism of his peers.

Allyan blasted the merchants in his village for not shuttering their shops in solidarity with a nationwide strike declared in memory of the Palestinian ‘martyrs.’ He also decried the Palestinian Authority as ‘traitors’ for not cancelling the football league.

Read the article in full at Fathom Journal.