An image of skulls adorned with Jewish stars of David posted online by a Palestinian political party has sparked outrage. The picture was posted on social media by Fatah, the party of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, alongside the words: ‘lingering on your skulls’.
Ofir Gendelman, the Israeli Prime Minister’s Arab media spokesman, described the image as ‘despicable’ and called into question how moderate the party is.
The posting of the haunting picture, also depicting the party’s flag and a gun, coincided with its 50th anniversary.
The group was founded on January 1 1965, carrying out its first major attack against Israel, according to CNN.
When the network contacted the Fatah Central Committee, a member disavowed the picture.
‘Fatah did not design this image,’ Mahmoud al-Aloul told CNN.
The person who posted it to Fatah’s page ‘is currently being asked to remove it. The image and the text do not reflect the opinions of Fatah.’
The post was later removed from the Facebook page.
The posting of the image comes as a decision by Abas on December 31 to enter into his most serious confrontation yet with Israel by signing onto the International Criminal Court (ICC).
His decision on Wednesday gives the court jurisdiction over crimes committed in Palestinian lands and could even lead to cases being brought against Israeli or Palestinian leaders.
The nearly 80-year-old former teacher, advocating non-violence, has spent his ten years in office trying to clamp down on armed groups and build up his administration in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
But the failure of peace talks this year to win a state or halt the spread of Israeli settlements seems to have clinched his decision that now is the time for what commentators on both sides describe as ‘lawfare’ – conflict by means of law.
‘We’ve tried every possibility to reach a solution with the Israelis and we’ve spent 20 years of negotiations that didn’t end their occupation over us,’ senior Palestinian official Mohammed Shtayyeh said.
‘So now we have taken a peaceful, legal option to internationalise this conflict.’
U.S.-mediated Israeli-Palestinian talks collapsed in April 2014 amid mutual blame.
It was the latest failure of negotiations to bring about peace and a Palestinian state since the Palestinian Authority under Abbas’s predecessor, Yasser Arafat, came into being in 1993 under interim deals.