Samer Samih Hamad, from the West Bank village of Arakeh, near the pre-1967 border, is believed to be one of the youngest suicide bombers ever dispatched by a Palestinian group.
In a video "living will", he dedicated the operation to the thousands of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. Dressed in black with a yellow headband inscribed with Koranic verses, he warned in a clear, firm voice: "There are many other bombers on the way." Relatives said he had completed high school. But he looked more like a boy.
Nidal Hamad, 35, his cousin, told The Independent that Samer was 17 and had left home yesterday to go to his job in Jenin. Another cousin, Nazeer Hamad, carried out an earlier suicide bombing in Afula. "Jews have confiscated more than 50 per cent of our agricultural land, where we cultivated olive, almond and fruit trees," Nidal Hamad said. "I do not know what to tell you. Some youths believe that they should do something about it. Some people believe they should not. But you will never be able to make a distinction between those who believe in it, and those who do not."
These are the children of the Second Intifada. And they are legion.
Tonight, the news media are filled with this latest and unspeakable tragedy, as they should be. TDuring the 8:15 newsbreak during The O'Reilly Factor on Fox News, I caught the presenter talking of the ''homicide bomber'' and the horrors he caused. I heard that U.S. President George W. Bush has rightly condemned the attack while Hamas has not.
I won't get into the politics here except to say that the suicide bombing, while understandable on one level, is not justifiable on any level -- and has not helped Hamas one damn bit. If it wanted the world's sympathy, it needed to condemn the attack, without hesitation, without equivocation.
The scenes from Gaza are heartbreaking. Heartbreaking? That's not for certain. The sight of the Aben family from Beit Lahiya mourning its 12-year-old daughter Hadil last week did not stir any particular shock in Israel. Nor did anyone take to the streets and protest over the sight of her wounded mother and little brother lying in shock on the floor of their shanty in Gaza.
On the day Hadil Aben was killed, Yedioth Aharonoth carried a story about Nelly, the dog from Kibbutz Zikim that died of heart failure from the booming noise of the Israeli artillery firing into Gaza.
Instead of expressions of sorrow at the death of children, the upper echelons of the defense establishment came out with a stream of strident statements. The defense minister said that the only thing to do was step up the pressure on the Palestinians. The deputy chief of staff spoke about a possible invasion of Gaza and the head of army operations added, "what we've seen so far are only the previews." The IDF announced it would further reduce the "safety range" that is designed to avoid shells hitting the civilian population.
It was a chilling, united chorus. Israel is dropping thousands of bombs on towns and villages, on the "the launching pads" of the Qassams - another dubious term created by the defense establishment and blindly adopted by the press - and only the Palestinians, whose Qassam rockets haven't killed anyone since the disengagement, are called "terrorists."
No Qassam justifies the killing and terror that the shells sow in Gaza. Cannons are meant for war against an army. Using them against a helpless civilian population is supposed to be beyond the realm of the legitimate, without any ifs or buts about it. A state does not shell towns. Period. Just like in the war against crime that is also deadly and endangers state security, no end justifies all the means. Would it ever occur to the Israeli police to evacuate an entire neighborhood from which some murderers came? Would anyone decide to shell such a neighborhood, even if it would mean minimizing the crime coming out of it?
Those who really want to end the Qassam launches from Gaza, should turn Israeli policy upside down. To show restraint in the face of the Qassams, to lift the siege, to immediately meet with the elected Palestinian leadership and call on the world to stop withholding the funds from the Palestinian Authority. Only a free and secure and thriving Gaza will stop launching Qassams. Have we ever tried that?
This must be asked in our media too.
But it won't be.