Mourners at funeral of terror victim Rina Shnerb, 17, Aug. 23, 2019. (AP/Sebastian Scheiner) (AP/Sebastian Scheiner)
Funeral Rina Shnerb

Rina Shnerb, the 17-year-old teenager who was killed by Palestinian terrorists, never lived in a “settlement” in Samaria and she never served in the IDF or any security agency, contrary to the lies spread by the Palestinian media.

By Bassam Tawil, The Gatestone Institute

Why are the details about Rina’s hometown and her age worth mentioning? Because the Palestinian media has again engaged in a campaign of fabrications and lies to justify the terror attack and the murder of an innocent Jewish teenager.

Lod is not a settlement. It is a city located in the Central District of Israel, and even has an Arab population of 30%.

The Palestinian media, however, does not feel comfortable reporting the facts about the terror attack. In the eyes of Palestinian news editors and journalists, Rina was a “settler” and a “soldier.” By using such terms, the Palestinians are trying to create the impression that she was not an innocent teenager, but a Jew who lived in a settlement and was even serving in the IDF.

This type of misinformation is aimed at sending a message that Rina was a legitimate target because she was one of hundreds of thousands of Jewish settlers living in Judea and Samaria and an active member of the IDF. The Palestinian public, for its part, is often quick to endorse such lies to justify terror attacks against Jews.

What is particularly disturbing is that even the media controlled by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas chose to spread the lie that the murdered teenager was a “settler” and “soldier.”

Reporting on the terror attack, Abbas’s official news agency, Wafa, said in an August 23 dispatch:

“The Israeli occupation forces on Friday sealed off main roads to villages west of Ramallah and beefed up their military presence in the Ramallah area on the pretext that a female settler was killed and others injured near the Dolev settlement that was built on the lands of [Palestinian] residents west of Ramallah.”

Inventing an Alternate Reality

The term “pretext” is aimed at casting doubt about the Israeli authorities’ version concerning the circumstances surrounding the murder of the teenager. It is as if Abbas’s news agency is telling its readers that there is no proof that the Jewish teenager was murdered in a terror attack and it is only a claim being made by the Israeli authorities.

Although the agency was aware that Rina was from an Israeli city located near Israel’s main international airport (Ben Gurion Airport), it still chose to refer to her as a “female settler.” Why? Because, in the eyes of Abbas’s news agency, it is permissible to murder settlers because they are living “on Palestinian residents’ land.” Abbas’s official news agency, in other words, is saying that this Jewish woman deserved a horrible death because she was living in an “illegal settlement.”

Abbas’s ruling Fatah faction also joined the Palestinian campaign of lies by describing the murdered Jewish teenager as a “settler” and her father and brother as “settlers.” Again, by spreading such lies Fatah is implying that Rina was not just an ordinary teenager who was on a picnic with her family.

While Abbas’s official media and faction continue to describe Rina as a “settler,” other popular Palestinian media outlets have been spreading the other lie that she was a “female soldier” — creating the false impression that she was targeted in a “legitimate resistance operation against an armed Jew in military uniform.

The Palestinian news agency Ma’an, which is closely associated with the Palestinian Authority and Abbas, was among the first media organizations to publish the fake news that Rina was a “female soldier.” The agency even had the audacity to tell its readers that “Israeli media reported that a female soldier” was killed in a bomb explosion.

Needless to say, the Israeli media never referred to Rina as a “female soldier” or “settler.” Ma’an and the rest of the Palestinian media, however, will not allow the facts to get in their way because the truth can be “inconvenient.”

Inconvenient Truths

Speaking of inconvenient truths, here is another: Abbas and his Palestinian Authority have refrained from condemning the murder of the Jewish teenager. Their silence actually thunders their approval of such terror attacks, especially when, as they claim, the victim is a “settler” or “soldier.” How can Abbas condemn the murder of a Jewish girl when he is telling his people, through his media, that Rina was not an innocent teenager?

While one considers disturbing facts, it might be mentioned that whenever a Jew is murdered or injured in a terror attack, Palestinians break out in mass celebration. Shortly after Rina’s slaying, several Palestinian groups, including Hamas, Islamic Jihad and various PLO factions like the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) were quick to issue statements praising the murder of the teenager and calling on Palestinians to step up their “qualitative” attacks against Israel.

Not one Palestinian has dared to speak out against the slaughter; this silence, of course, does not come as a surprise. Given the continued anti-Israel incitement in the Palestinian media, no Palestinian will dare to go against the tide by condemning a terror attack out of fear of being labeled a traitor. On the contrary, any Palestinian who praises a terror attack against Israel earns respect and is hailed as a hero.

Finally, it is important to note that many Palestinian media outlets and officials continue to refer to Israel as “occupied Palestine.” They see zero difference between a Jew living in Judea and Samaria and a Jew living inside Israel. For them, all Jews are settlers and colonizers, and all cities inside Israel — Tel Aviv, Haifa, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Eilat, as well as Lod, the hometown of Rina — are “occupied.” In the eyes of Palestinians, all of Israel is “occupied” and a “settlement”

They also consider any Jew visiting the Temple Mount in Jerusalem a “settler,” even if he or she does not live in a settlement. The goal is to depict the Jewish visitors as hostile colonizers on a mission to “defile” a mosque. Again, this type of rhetoric aims to encourage Palestinians to launch terror attacks against Jewish “aggressors.”

When Palestinian terrorists fired three rockets at Sderot on August 25, Palestinian media outlets reported that Sderot is a “settlement.” In case anyone had doubts, Sderot is an Israeli city in the Negev Desert, not a “settlement.” By using the term “settlement,” the Palestinians are again trying to create the impression that a city it is a legitimate target for rocket attacks because it is an “illegal settlement.”

The rhetoric and fabrications of the Palestinian media are simply part of a longstanding Palestinian campaign of incitement against Israel and Jews. For this media ensemble, truth is just another word for nothing left to lie about.

Bassam Tawil is a Muslim Arab based in the Middle East.

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