JERUSALEM ø 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
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
"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 ø most of them
recruited by Fatah ø 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.