Although Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas refutes claims he is provoking conflict with Israel ahead of Obama’s visit, Fatah’s Al Aqsa Brigades has claimed responsibility for a rocket fired on Israel, a serious escalation. While some media outlets are reporting the claim of responsibility has yet to be confirmed, Abbas has not issued any denials of responsibility. The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade claimed the rocket was retaliation for Palestinian prisoner Arafat Jaradat’s death in an Israeli prison on Saturday, whom Israeli officials believe was caused by a heart attack. The terrorist group, associated with Fatah, had published a leaflet on Monday urging a harsh response against Israel for Jaradat’s death. The rocket hit a road in an industrial area in the south of the city around 7 a.m., according to Channel 10 news. There were no injuries, although the road was damaged.
The rocket fire represents the opening up of a second front between Israel and the Palestinians, and further compromises Abbas’ credibility and his ability to rein in the violent group. Will the media give a free pass to Abbas’ responsibility for this escalation?