"The shahid is honored throughout the history of nations. He is the one who blazed the trail for us. He paved the path to liberty with his blood," Knesset Member Ahmad Tibi said last week.
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Speaking in Ramallah during an event organized by the Palestinian Authority to mark "Shahid (Martyr) Day," the Arab-Israeli lawmaker said the shahid "is the symbol of the homeland," adding "our best wishes to the thousands of our nation's shahids – also to those who operated abroad and those who operated in 1948."
"They are the shahids who the occupier calls terrorists and we say are fighting for the homeland," Tibi said during his speech.
The Yedioth Ahronoth daily noted that Tibi did not refer to suicide bombers but to all Palestinian fallen Palestinians, who are hailed as martyrs.
Palestinian officials said Tibi is aware that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas opposes suicide missions and was referring to Palestinians who were killed during the conflict with Israel.
Tibi said, "Israelis are ignorant with regards to the term 'shahid' and misunderstand it. It refers to anyone who was killed by the occupation for the homeland or died for a national cause."
The MK said that during his speech he specifically mentioned Mohammed al-Dura, the boy who the Palestinians claim was killed by IDF fire in 2000.
"Someone intentionally ignored the fact that I mentioned (al-Dura) and other Palestinians who were killed to distort the meaning of my speech in such a way that it appeared as though I support suicide attacks, which is not true at all."
MK Nachman Shai (Kadima) slammed Tibi over his speech, saying his colleague was "stretching freedom of expression to the limit."
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