PA Denies Hamas Responsibility for Oct. 7 Massacre as Biden Pushes for Group To Govern Gaza

PA Leader Mahmoud Abbas (Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)
November 20, 2023

The Palestinian Authority on Sunday issued a now-deleted statement that claimed Hamas was not responsible for the massacre at a music festival during the terror group's Oct. 7 attack on Israel.

The authority's foreign ministry alleged in the Arabic statement that "Israeli helicopters," not Hamas, killed hundreds of civilians at the Supernova festival. The ministry statement cited an article from the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, which reported that Israeli troops in a helicopter could have hit some festival-goers as they fired at the terrorists.

The paper in a news update Sunday called the ministry's allegation that Israel was responsible for the massacre "a false claim that does not reflect what was published in Haaretz." That update also reported that Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas did not approve the foreign ministry's statement, which the ministry retracted on Monday.

The statement came a day after U.S. president Joe Biden called for a "revitalized" version of the Palestinian Authority to lead Gaza after the conclusion of Israel's war on Hamas.

"As we strive for peace," Biden wrote in a Washington Post opinion piece Saturday, "Gaza and the West Bank should be reunited under a single governance structure, ultimately under a revitalized Palestinian Authority, as we all work toward a two-state solution."

A National Security Council spokesperson called the Palestinian Authority's statement "disrespectful to the families and loved ones of those who lost their lives in the horrific terror attack perpetrated by Hamas on October 7th."

"We understand the Palestinian Authority has removed it from their website, and we are glad the Palestinian Authority has since clarified that this is not their official position," the spokesperson said.

This is not the first time that Palestinian Authority leaders have come under fire for comments about the murder of Jews. The United States and the European Union in September both slammed Abbas for remarks he made about the Holocaust.

"This has been explained by many Jewish authors," Abbas said in an August address. "When they said that Hitler killed the Jews for being Jews, and that Europe hates the Jews because they were Jews, no. It was clearly explained that they fought [the Jews] because of their social role and not their religion."

Update 3:18 p.m.: This piece has been updated with comment from the National Security Council.