JERUSALEM, Israel -- When Salam al-Zaghal was taken into custody after murdering a 31-year-old Israeli father of five earlier this week, he told investigators he'd "received a green light to carry out 'military' actions against Israeli targets in response to the deaths of prisoners' Arafat Jaradat and Maissara Abu Hamdiya in an Israeli prison.
The Palestinian Authority praised al-Zaghal as a hero of the "resistance" and Fatah posted accolades on its Facebook page.
Jaradat died of a heart attack and Hamdiya of esophageal cancer, but the Palestinian Authority blamed Israel.
On Thursday, the Middle East Research Institute (MEMRI) published angry reactions to a statement by a Fatah's Central Committee member, who claimed such attacks aren't "general policy."
Jamal Muheisen called the killer's act a "natural response to attacks by the occupation and settlers," but added that it did not "express the general policy of the Palestinian Authority and of Fatah."
Fatah went ballistic.
"Mr. Jamal Muheisen pretends to forget that Fatah was the first bullet and that it led the enterprise of struggle with thousands of martyrs, prisoners and injured and sacrificed its best sons and commanders," Amad, a publication closely affiliated with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), wrote.
"If not for these victims, Mr. Muheisen would not have risen to such seniority in Fatah, [seniority] he does not merit if he describers martyrs in terms incompatible with the principles of nationalism and describes actions against the occupation and the settlers as acts of individuals who are totally unrelated to Fatah."
Dr. Salah Khatla called al-Zaghal "a hero of the Fatah movement, a revolutionary and a fighter who restores Fatah's pride and former glory."
Another Amad columnist, Hisham Sakallah, wrote, "The brave and heroic action -- the killing of the Zionist settler near the Za'atra checkpoint carried out by the martyred warrior Salam al-Zaghal, member of the al-Aksa Martyrs Brigades [Fatah's armed wing] -- proves the Fatah movement, its sons, commanders and leaders will continue to carry the rifle and carry out combative military action until Palestine -- all Palestine [that includes Israel] -- is liberated."
Although the U.S. State Department considers Hamas a terrorist organization, the international community may have forgotten that Fatah, the party affiliated with the Palestinian Authority, perpetrated more terror attacks on Israelis during both the first and second intifadas than Hamas.