The Palestinian Authority, Hamas and other Palestinian groups have declared Nashat Milhem a shaheed, or martyr.
The PA Ministry of Health initially added Milhem, who is an Israeli citizen, to its list of “martyrs” killed by Israelis during the current wave of terrorism that began in early October.
However, the ministry removed it from the list Friday night, explaining that it documents the names of Palestinian “martyrs” only in areas that fall under its jurisdiction – namely the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and, under dispute with Israel, east Jerusalem.
The ministry did not, however, offer any explanation as to why another Israeli, Muhanad al-Okabi, who carried out the October 18 terrorist attack at the Beersheba Central Bus Station, appears as No. 31 on the list of “martyrs.”
The ministry defended the decision to remove Milhem’s name by arguing that it did not mean he is not entitled to be characterized as a “martyr,” while a statement it issued praised him as “one of the most precious martyrs whose name has been inscribed with his pure blood that watered the soil of our free land.”
It dismissed criticism by many Palestinians by saying there is no difference between Milhem and any other Palestinian “martyr.”
“We are proud of our Palestinian people in the 1948 lands,” the PA ministry said, referring to Israel’s Arab citizens. “We are proud of their sacrifices and achievements. No one can deny their belonging to their homeland, Palestine.”
Hamas and Islamic Jihad, meanwhile, condemned the killing of Milhem and praised him as a “hero” and “martyr.”
Hamas spokesman Hussam Badran praised Milhem for causing “panic” in Israel for a whole week, saying: “Milhem is an example of a free Palestinian who defends himself and his cause.”
Islamic Jihad said in a statement that Israel would “pay a price for its crime” of killing Milhem.
The two groups later set up a tent in Gaza City to receive condolences over his death.