December 10, 2019

PA Fails to Condemn Murder of Israeli Teen, Netanyahu Advances West Bank Housing in Response to Killing

FILE PHOTO - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas heads a Palestinian cabinet meeting in the West Bank city of Ramallah July 28, 2013. REUTERS/Issam Rimawi/Pool/File Photo

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The Palestinian Authority has not publicly condemned the bomb attack at a West Bank spring that killed an Israeli teenager and the terrorist group Hamas has praised the still-unidentified terrorists.

Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded to the attack by ordering the advancement of a plan for a new neighborhood of 300 homes in the Dolev settlement located near the site of the killing.

Rina Shnerb, 17, of the central Israel city of Lod was killed, and her father and 19-year-old brother were injured when explosives placed at the Ein Bubin spring were detonated remotely on Friday morning. The spring, which was named for a terrorist attack victim who died in 2015, is a popular destination for hikers. It is located about six miles east of the central Israeli city of Modiin.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas rarely condemns attacks against Israelis, in the West Bank and Israel. The P.A. has a policy of paying stipends to the families of terrorists either in prison or killed in the attacks — a policy that Israel has dubbed “pay to slay.”

P.A. media reports incorrectly identified Rina as both a soldier and a settler, according to Palestinian Media Watch. She was neither.

Hamas in a statement released Friday called the attack “proof of the vitality and bravery of the Palestinian people, and of the fact that it will not surrender to the crimes and terrorism of the occupation.” Its leader, Ismail Haniyeh, in a sermon in the Gaza Strip called it a “heroic attack,” adding that “the West Bank has strong people who are no less faithful and steadfast than their brethren in Gaza.”

White House special Mideast envoy Jason Greenblatt reacted to the Palestinian response in a tweet.

“Hamas praised 17yo Rina Shnerb’s murder by Palestinian terrorists. The PA must unequivocally condemn this attack & the recent murder of 18yo Dvir Sorek,” a yeshiva student and Israeli army recruit found stabbed to death near the West Bank settlement of Migdal Oz earlier this month. “If they don’t, donor countries should demand the PA answer for why their donor funds continue to be used to reward attacks.”

The left-wing organization IfNotNow, which opposes the occupation but does not take a position on anti-Israel boycotts or whether Israel should be a Jewish state, in a statement on Twitter said it was “mourning” the death of Rina Shnerb before adding that “the rightward drift of Israeli and US govts” for “mak[ing] the situation on the ground less safe for Israelis and Palestinians.”

In response to the IfNotNow tweet, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., a Palestinian American who backs the movement to boycott Israel, condemned “extremism” and called for “nonviolent approaches to ending the Israeli occupation.”

“This is absolutely tragic & horrible. My heart goes out to Rina’s family,” her tweet said. “More than ever we need to support nonviolent approaches to ending the Israeli occupation and guaranteeing equal rights for all. Extremism that puts innocent lives at risk moves us no closer to peace.”

On Monday, Netanyahu ordered the approval of the construction of 300 new homes in Dolev, saying in a statement that Israel “will deepen our roots and strike our enemies. We will continue to strengthen and develop the settlements.”

The project reportedly had been scheduled to come up at the meeting of the Defense Ministry Civil Administration’s high planning subcommittee, which will meet again in three months. Right-wing critics of Netanyahu have criticized the prime minister in the past for advancing existing plans for settlement housing in response to such attacks instead of new plans.

Peace Now, which regards settlements as one of the largest obstacles to the two-state solution, said Netanyahu’s statement “cynically turns terrorism into a political tool to promote an ideological vision.”

On Monday, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin visited Rina’s father, Rabbi Eitan Shnerb, whose condition has improved, and his son, Dvir, who was more severely injured. They are sharing a room at the Hadassah Medical Center in Ein Kerem.

Eitan Shnerb told Rivlin that his daughter was “so deep and thought so much about life, her purpose in this life and what home she would have. Always with joy, a smile.”

Rivlin responded: “We weep for Rina, and she deserves our tears, but we also get up and carry on. And it is so important for us to continue to make sure Rina’s voice continues to be heard. Choose life and keep strong.”