'Martyr': Palestinian media praise killer of US tourist in Israel

The Palestinian attacker who unleashed a stabbing spree in Israel nearly three months ago, killing an American tourist and wounding 11 others before police killed him, was a "martyr" in the eyes of Palestinian media.

The Palestinian Authority's official TV network reported Saturday the attacker, Bashar Masalha, received a burial described as "a large national wedding befitting of martyrs" -- a reference to the Islamic teaching that a martyr would marry 72 virgins in the afterlife.

The March 8 stabbing rampage in Tel Aviv killed Taylor Force, a 28-year-old West Point grad and veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan who was studying abroad in pursuit of his MBA. Israeli police were among the wounded.

Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, the Palestinian Authority's official daily newspaper, called him a "martyr" on Saturday as well, Palestinian Media Watch reported. Just one day after the attack, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party labeled Masalha a "heroic martyr."

Force, originally from Lubbock, Texas, was standing on a boardwalk when the killer stabbed him.

“He was such a hard worker, an Eagle Scout, and loved by everybody,” his father, Stuart Force, said after the attack.

After Israel gave up the killer's body, Masalha was buried in the West Bank village of Hajja, in a "cemetery for martyrs," Palestinian TV reported.