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3/27/04 - USE OF CHILD BOMBERS CONDEMNED - 2004-03-29

Children are being used as human bombs by Palestinian terrorists. On March 24th, a boy believed to be sixteen was sent on a suicide mission. The boy, Hussam Abdo, was detained at an Israeli army checkpoint near the town of Nablus. He was wearing an eighteen-pound suicide vest.

Luckily, the bomb Hussam carried was safely defused. But many Palestinians have reacted angrily to the exploitation of a child for a murderous purpose. “Why don’t they leave us alone,” said the boy’s mother, Tamam Abdo. “He is young, he is small. He should be in school. Someone pressured him,” she said.

The use of children and young mothers by Palestinian terrorists has become a disturbing pattern. In January, a seventeen-year-old boy died when his bomb belt exploded prematurely. A few days later, the terrorist group Hamas sent a twenty-two-year-old mother of two young children to blow herself up at a crossing from Gaza into Israel. Four Israelis were killed in the attack. Earlier this month, two eighteen-year-olds blew themselves up at the Israeli port of Ashdod, killing ten Israelis. On March 16th, Israeli troops stopped an eleven-year-old boy apparently trying to smuggle explosives through the same checkpoint where Hussan Abdo was caught.

“Using children to carry out or assist in armed attacks of any kind is an abomination,” said Amnesty International in a new report. “We call on the Palestinian leadership to publicly denounce these practices." The Palestinian leadership must rein in all of the terrorist groups acting within their borders, says U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher. “Those people are not only killing innocent civilians,” says Mr. Boucher. “They are also killing the dreams and hopes of the Palestinian people. . . . You need to end the violence in order to achieve the vision of two states [Israel and Palestine] living side by side.”

“If the Palestinians want to see their own state,” says President George W. Bush, “they've got to dismantle the terrorist networks. What the United States will continue to do is to remind those who love peace and yearn for freedom in that part of the world to join together and to battle those few who want to destroy the ambitions of [the] many.”