10-year-old Palestinian boy not told he was carrying a bomb

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

JERUSALEM The 10-year-old Palestinian boy who was captured by Israeli troops while carrying a bomb in his bag said he was not told what he was carrying.

The boy was stopped Monday and found to be carrying a seven-kilogram bomb near the northern West Bank city of Nablus. Military sources said Fatah operatives tried to detonate the bomb by cellular phone when Israeli soldiers stopped the 10-year-old at the checkpoint outside the town of Hawara.

The suspicion of the soldiers was aroused when they saw wires protuding from the boy's bag.

"I have no idea how a boy that age could carry such a heavy weight," an Israeli soldier at the checkpoint said.

The cellular phone failed to detonate the bomb carried by the boy, the sources said, and nobody was injured. Later, the boy, who lives in the Balata refugee camp and earned money by delivering material past Israeli checkpoints, told Israeli officers that he was offered an unspecified sum to carry the bomb.

He said he was not informed of the content of the bag or that he would be carrying out a suicide attack. The Fatah operatives were not captured.

"They've been using children for a long time," Danny Arditi, the counter-terrorism adviser to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, said on Tuesday. "This was the first time that we caught a child who was transporting bombs."

Military sources said insurgents aligned with the ruling Fatah movement have paid young children to smuggle bombs and serve as suicide bombers in the West Bank. The sources said that in most cases the children were not told of their missions.

The insurgents have used children on the assumption that they would not be examined by soldiers. The sources said the children were promised large amounts of money for carrying the bombs or related material.

"It appears that the aforementioned terrorists planned to detonate the devices via a cellular telephone, as the boy passed through the checkpoint, in order to harm soldiers," an Israeli military statement said. "They planned to use the boy as an unwitting suicide terrorist."

The military statement said 29 Palestinian minors most of them recruited by Fatah were used in suicide operations against Israeli targets. The sources said the boy was released.

Over the last two years, Fatah and other insurgency groups have used Palestinian women, many of them teenagers, for suicide missions. Most of the women were said to have been blackmailed into agreeing to blowing themselves up near Israeli military and civilian targets.

Israel's military has determined that Palestinian insurgents have recruited children to become suicide bombers.

On Monday,

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