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2/4/04 - OPPOSING SUICIDE BOMBERS - 2004-02-05

In recent weeks, Palestinian suicide bombers have struck twice in Israel. On January 29th, a young Palestinian policeman killed himself and eleven other people on a Jerusalem bus. Earlier in January, a young Palestinian mother killed herself and four Israelis at a checkpoint on the Gaza border. In each attack, two Palestinian terrorist groups, Hamas and Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, claimed responsibility. And Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin threatened more terrorism against Israel -- including by young women.

In the past, Sheikh Yassin’s repulsive words might have found receptive ears. But today, that appears to be less and less the case. Palestinian commentator Hasan Badtil wrote that “if society does not have the courage to speak out on this issue, we could soon see ten-year-olds and pregnant women blowing themselves up.” Hafez Barghouti, editor of the Palestinian Authority’s newspaper Hayat al-Jedida, said that, “We should not wage a war with women and children. . . . [W]e have to raise our voice against that.”

Even the families of suicide bombers are speaking out against killing, says Hassan Fattah, editor of the newspaper and Web site, “Iraq Today”:

“I spent time in Gaza especially and got to interview a lot of families of suicide bombers. And consistently you hear from those families even, there’s sadness and there’s deep disappointment at the fact that their children would have chosen to do this. I think what you’re probably seeing today is a critical mass of people who are much more willing to talk about it and much more willing to speak against it.”

Indeed, polling by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in Ramallah indicates that the Palestinian people, by an overwhelming margin, want an end to violence on both sides. Perhaps that is why Arab and Muslim extremists, including the terrorists of Hamas and Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, are opposed to self-determination for Palestinians. If the Palestinian people could decide matters for themselves, they might take serious action against those who would send women and children to their deaths.