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January 12, 2016 1:34 pm

To Health and Martyrdom

avatar by Ruthie Blum

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Tel Aviv pub shooter Nashat Melhem's body, after a gun battle with Israeli special forces. The 29-year-old from northern Israel who went on a shooting spree at a Tel Aviv PUB and then escaped. Photo: Screenshot.

Tel Aviv pub shooter Nashat Melhem’s body, after a gun battle with Israeli special forces. Photo: Screenshot.

On Sunday, I reported for The Algemeiner on the Palestinian Authority’s honoring of the Tel Aviv pub terrorist.

The story, more precisely, was that the PA Health Ministry initially placed Nashat Milhem — who was killed Friday during a gun battle with Israeli security forces after a week-long manhunt — on its official list of “martyrs” and shortly thereafter removed his name.

Jerusalem Post Palestinian affairs correspondent Khaled Abu Toameh — a senior fellow at the New York-based Gatestone Institute –who broke the story, told me that the probable reason for the deletion was that the PA figured paying such respect to the infamous shooter would not look good in the international arena.

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This was merely an assessment. But what followed was fact.

Outrage promptly erupted on Arabic social media, with the Facebook pages and Twitter feeds of Palestinians calling the PA to task for not giving Milhem his proper due. Hashtags were created; Hamas and Fatah supporters alike chimed in on behalf of the 29-year-old from northern Israel who went on a shooting spree against innocent people and then escaped, leaving the residents of Tel Aviv fearing he might turn up at any moment to pull a repeat performance.

To allay the anger aroused by its about-face, the PA Health Ministry released a statement of clarification. Milhem was erased from his original classification as the 150th “martyr” killed during the current wave of violence, it explained, only because he was an Israeli Arab and therefore not in the purview of the PA, which operates in the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza.

But this, the ministry assured, did not mean Milhem’s coveted title was being revoked. On the contrary, it said, he “is one of the most precious martyrs, and his name has been inscribed with his pure blood that has watered our free land.”

There is much one can say — and even more that has already been said — about a PA government body referring to the cold blood of a murderer as “pure.”

Yet there is one crucial aspect of this tale that could easily slip by unnoticed: The very fact that the Palestinian organ charged with counting and lionizing dead terrorists is the Health Ministry.

While the Israeli Health Ministry fights for budgets to keep the country’s citizens alive and well, its Palestinian counterpart devotes resources to regaling death — and the more excruciating, the better.

This is no small matter, and it has nothing to do with the “Palestinian-Israeli conflict,” a misnomer for a long, drawn-out war of attrition in which the side that is trying to wear down the enemy is the one suffering the most losses.

If the Palestinians’ continued self-defeating belligerence were merely a reflection of their leadership’s lack of care for the masses, it would be dreadful, but not an aberration. Despots throughout history have viewed their subjects as chattel, and used human beings as cannon fodder. Nothing new there.

What makes the case of the Palestinian Authority and other radical Muslim regimes unique is their active seeking out of gruesome ends to the short lives of people raised to thirst for and worship blood.

As Palestinian Media Watch reported on Monday, at the 51st Fatah anniversary celebrations in Bethlehem last week — attended by the upper echelons of the PA — children paraded around carrying rocket-propelled grenades and wearing suicide belts.

If any of those kids end up slaughtering Jews, or getting killed in the process of trying to do so, their parents will be richly rewarded for providing new names to the Health Ministry’s registrar of “martyrs” for the cause.

Lest anyone believe that getting Israel to withdraw to the 1967 borders is the “cause,” let him think again. The PA repeatedly makes it clear it considers the entire Jewish state to be illegitimate. Furthermore, to add irony to tragedy, whenever any Palestinian official or member of his family has a medical problem, he rushes to an Israeli hospital to be treated by Israeli doctors.

This is what happens when your own health ministry, like the society you created, is sick.

Ruthie Blum is the web editor of The Algemeiner (algemeiner.com). This article was originally published by Israel Hayom.

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