Atallah Hanna at terrorist memorial
Atallah Hanna at terrorist memorialPalestinian Media Watch

The Palestinian Authority's (PA) municipality in Bethlehem, Judea, held an event in late December honoring 52 terrorist prisoners from the city serving life sentences, with a particularly ironic twist taking place during the ceremony.

Palestinian Greek Orthodox Archbishop of Sebastia Atallah Hanna was among those taking part in honoring the murderers - but in fact one of the terrorists, Yasser Rabai'ah, murdered one of Hanna's fellow clergy, Greek Orthodox monk Gur Pzipokatsatakis, reports Palestinian Media Watch on Saturday.

The event was "a salute of loyalty and commitment," according to speakers at the event cited by the official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida.

In the event sponsored by the Bethlehem municipality, Hanna inadvertently honored the murderer who on June 12, 2002, gunned down Pzipokatsatakis in a drive-by shooting near Ma'ale Adumim, to the east of Jerusalem.

His murderer, Rabai'ah, is a member of the Tanzim terror group associated with Fatah, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas's faction. Rabai'ah, who hails from Bethlehem, was arrested by Israel and handed a life sentence for his heinous crime.

Other terrorists honored in the event included those who transported suicide bombers in lethal attacks that left dozens of Israelis murdered.

This is far from Hanna's first time supporting terror. The Greek Archbishop recently incited terrorism in a speech in Lebanon, saying Palestinian Arabs will return to reclaim their "homeland." Last month he unveiled a "martyrs tree" at Al Quds University in Jerusalem, honoring terrorist murderers.

Hanna, a leading Arab representative in the Greek Orthodox Church, has long waged a public relations campaign against Israel even from his days as a spokesperson of the church under his archbishop predecessor; back in 2003 he visited the families of suicide bombers. While advancing through the ranks of the clergy, Hanna continued to use various platforms to attack Israel.

Bethlehem has been a key hotbed of terror, in a process paralleling how Christians have been systematically persecuted under the PA. 

As a result of various forms of persecution, the Christian population in Bethlehem has nearly disappeared under PA rule since the 1994 Oslo Accords, dropping from 60% in 1990 to just 15% in 2014.

Just last week, Palestinian Media Watch exposed that Fatah held a parade in Bethlehem, in which children were seen holding real weapons, as well as toy suicide belts. The city has long glorified its terrorist murderers in a variety of events.