JERUSALEM (JTA) – Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called the alleged shooter of a Temple Mount activist a “martyr.”
Muataz Hijazi “will go to heaven as a martyr defending the rights of our people and its holy places,” Abbas wrote in a condolence letter sent Saturday to Hijazi’s family.
Hijazi is alleged to have shot activist Yehuda Glick three times outside the Begin Center in Jerusalem after Glick addressed a conference on Jewish rights on the Temple Mount. Hijazi and an alleged accomplice both worked at the centre’s restaurant. Hijazi was killed in a shootout with Israel Police.
Glick remains in serious condition and on a respirator at Shaarey Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, where he underwent a third surgery on Monday.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the letter.
“When we are trying to calm the situation, Abu Mazen sends condolences over the death of one who tried to perpetrate a reprehensible murder,” Netanyahu said in a statement issued Saturday night, using Abbas’ nom de guerre. “The time has come for the international community to condemn him for such actions.”
Israelis Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said in a Facebook post that Abbas’ letter shows he is “a partner for terror, a partner to terrorists, a partner of murderers.”
The letter, he wrote, amounts to “open support for terror and encouragement of further murders.”