A female terrorist who died in an infamous attack that killed 38 Israelis, including 13 children, was memorialized last week at a public square in Ramallah in what Jewish leaders say is just the latest twisted example of Palestinians glorifying extremist murderers.
“People from all over the world need to reject the type of celebration of terrorism and murderers everywhere.”
- Oren Segal, Anti-Defamation League
Dalal Mughrabi, who led the deadly 1978 bus hijacking on Israel’s Coastal Highway that also wounded more than 70, has long been venerated as a freedom fighter in Palestinian territories, where schoolchildren are taught to praise her as a martyr and freedom fighter. The move to honor her with a dedication of a square in the West Bank capital dates back to 2010, when the Palestinian Authority canceled a ceremony that would have coincided with a visit by Vice President Joe Biden. A year later, the PA went through with a dedication, and last week held a "re-dedication" that once again opened an old wound.
“Whenever any public area is named for somebody, it is meant to honor them and to never forget that person and their legacy,” said Oren Segal, director of the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism. “What makes this so inflammatory is this is a terrorist responsible for one of the deadliest attacks against Israel.”
The Beirut-born Mughrabi, who was 19, led a group of 11 terrorists in the March 11, 1978, attack near Tel Aviv, which was aimed at disrupting peace talks between Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat. The terrorists, who hoped to attack the Knesset, hijacked a taxi, killed its occupants and then seized two buses. Israeli forces stopped the bus and engaged the terrorists in a gunfight during which Mughrabi raised the Palestinian flag and then blew up the bus with a grenade.
The monument in the middle of Martyr Dalal Mughrabi Square depicts Mughrabi cradling a gun against a backdrop of a map of Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Last week's rededication ceremony was preceded by a Facebook post by Fatah, the group that carried out the attack, commemorating the day and even exaggerating the number of casualties.
“A huge self-sacrificing operation in Herzliya, Tel Aviv," the post stated. "80 Israelis killed and over 100 wounded.”
Mughrabi is as revered by Palestinians as she is reviled by Israelis. The Jerusalem Post reported that in 2010 alone, more than two dozen events and locations were named in honor of her, including a soccer tournament, a computer center and a summer camp. Last week, on the 37th anniversary, the re-dedication was accompanied by several tributes from top Palestinian leaders.
"It is an eternal day and a painful anniversary, but [it also] gives us energy, honor and power on this day, the anniversary of the Martyrdom of the fighter commander Dalal Mughrabi," said Rabiha Dhiab, former Minister of Women's Affairs."She who commanded a squad of self-sacrificing fighters, defined "return" [of refugees] in her own unique way and returned to Palestine to liberate Palestine."
The Palestinian Authority's insistence on elevating a terrorist with blood on her hands should be condemned by the international community, Segal said.
“People from all over the world need to reject the type of celebration of terrorism and murderers everywhere,” he said. “This rededication does not exist in a vacuum – celebration of terrorists and their actions happens frequently and, whenever it happens, we need voices of reason to say this is not acceptable.”