The head of the Palestinian Authority's "Prisoners' Society" has said that terrorists who murder Israeli civilians are "heros," underscoring the ongoing culture of incitement within the PA.
Qadura Fares is a senior member of Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah Party, and has served as a minister in the PA government.
The Palestinian Prisoners' Society advocates and lobbies for the release of Palestinians imprisoned for terrorist activities against Israel. Fares is himself a close friend of imprisoned terrorist mastermind Marwan Barghouti, who planned and ordered a string of deadly suicide bombings against Israeli civilians during the Second Intifada.
In an interview with Dutch filmmaker Rene van Praag, Fares – who hailed imprisoned terrorists as "heroes" – was asked whether he distinguished between those imprisoned for attacking soldiers and those jailed for attacking Israeli civilians.
After attempting to wriggle out of the question, a clearly agitated Fares shot back that Palestinians in general don't particularly care whether the targets of attacks are soldiers or civilians – and justified that stance by saying it was because they hadn't won their battle yet.
"Do you think that in the Palestinian community they are discussing who kills civilians or who kills soldiers?" he asked. "We are sharing solidarity with the prisoners."
"Maybe one day when we win our battle and we have freedom, maybe – maybe, I don't know – maybe we have to ethically stand up in front of the Israeli leaders and (say) 'I am sorry.' Maybe then," he continued.
"But today, now, to check all the details – how much violence and (against) whom… who can check these details?"
"I can, sitting right here," his interviewer responded, adding that while he understood Fares' point "I feel sad that you call them heroes…"
"By not making the difference you suggest to some people it's OK to kill civilians," he added, to which a furious Fares – obviously upset at being grilled – fired back "Are you a journalist?"
"For me, all those who resist the occupation and want to achieve for their people peace and independence and freedom, all of those are heroes," Fares emphasized.
Avi Bell, Professor of the Faculty of Law at Bar Ilan University, said international law states otherwise.
"There is no right under international law to engage in terrorism. There is no right under international law to engage in violence that targets civilians," he noted. "Those things are war crimes
"You may not as a matter of intent target civilians… if you do so you are a terrorist, and if you do so you are a murderer."
Manfred Gerstenfeld contributed to this report.