Palestinian Authority resumes praise for suicide bombings

Friday, March 7, 2003

RAMALLAH After a lull of several weeks, and only days before the expected onset of a U.S. war with Iraq, the Palestinian Authority is again promoting suicide bombing attacks against Israel.

PA media have resumed featuring videos and poems that praise suicide attacks and encourage Palestinian youngsters to carry out such missions. Last week, the PA-owned Al Hayat Al Jedida daily published a poem that glorified suicide attacks. The poem was in the form of a letter from a suicide bomber to his mother that describes his mission, Middle East Newsline reported.

"I wrapped my body with determination, with hopes and with bombs," the poem, authored by Abdul Badi Iraq, read. "The [explosive] belt makes me fly, strengthens me to make haste. I calm it [the explosive], we should stay steadfast, we have not yet reached."

The bomber describes how his soul flies above the Palestinian mosques and churches. He recalls how the Al Aqsa mosque smiled at the bomber's presence.

"Dawn is close, oh mother, and it shall rise from the guns, from the shining spears," the poem, published on Feb. 27, read. "It will be lit from a bloody wound. The wedding is the wedding of the land. Sound a cry of joy, oh mother, I am the groom."

PA television has also resumed broadcasts of videos that praise suicide missions against Israel. The broadcasts, however, do not refer to suicide bombings.

Meanwhile, Israel has maintained military operations in the northern Gaza Strip amid continued missile attacks on Israeli communities.

Israeli troops operated in the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Hanoun, the launching pad for Kassam attacks. Palestinian sources said an infantry force, backed by attack helicopters and about 100 tanks, armored personnel carriers and bulldozers destroyed several targets in the area.

The sources reported Palestinian resistance. The Israeli military, which began the latest operation on late Thursday, did not report any casualties.

"We will stay here for as long as needed, and if this means we will be here for a while, so it will be," Col. Yoel Strick, the commander of Israeli forces in the northern Gaza Strip, said.

Hours earlier, Palestinian gunners fired three Kassam-3 short-range rocket toward the nearby Israeli city of Sderot. The missiles landed in an open area and nobody was hurt.

The missile firing was one of several attacks by Palestinian gunners on Israeli communities on Thursday. Palestinians fired mortars toward the Israeli community of Netsarim outside Gaza City. Nobody was injured.

Israeli military operations were also reported around the northern West Bank city of Jenin. Israel regards Jenin as a leading launching pad for Palestinian suicide attacks.

On Friday, the Palestinian Authority daily, Al Ayyam, reported that Israeli troops arrested seven members of the family of a leading Fatah member in the Ramallah area. The daily identified the detainees as relatives of Abdullah Barghouti, regarded as a leading Fatah insurgent and captured on Wednesday. Later, Israeli authorities confirmed the arrest of Barghouti, saying he had planned several suicide bombing attacks in Jerusalem.

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