on the streets….
Glorification of terror in Palestinian society
London - published on 14 November
Beyond Images Ref: 104
This Briefing describes how the killing of 16 Israelis by
Palestinian suicide bombers in August 2004 was greeted with
joy and celebration on the Palestinian “street”.
Such Palestinian reactions have occurred countless times
in recent years. In the era following Yasser Arafat, the
Palestinians face the challenge not only of curbing terror,
but of rooting out the culture which glorifies terror.
On 31 August 2004 two Palestinian suicide bombers killed 16
Israeli men, women and children in the southern Israeli city
of Be’er Sheva. The victims were travelling in two passenger
buses 100 metres apart. Among the victims was a three year old
boy. Over 100 people were wounded in the attacks.
“I heard a blast and started to run to the site…..”
said one resident. “Within seconds there was another explosion….
when I got there there were people on the floor, wounded people,
limbs torn off….”. The city of Be’er Sheva
descended into mourning, and shock. A Hamas cell in Hebron claimed
responsibility for the double-attack.
Here are some reactions from within Palestinian society (reported
in The Jerusalem Post and Haaretz of 1 September 2004):-
Yasser Arafat was meeting with hundreds
of Palestinian supporters in the West Bank town of Salfit
when news of the attacks came through. He declared to the
crowd: “we will march towards Jerusalem, we will sacrifice
millions of martyrs…” (reported by Khaled Abu
Toameh from The Jerusalem Post). [Upon his death two months
later, Arafat was widely described as having been “ambivalent
- Scores of gunmen in Nablus, Tulkarem and Jenin fired into the
air, shouting “Allah Ahkbar”, God is great…
- About 20,000 Hamas supporters took to the streets of Gaza City
to “celebrate” the killings. Women ululated in joy,
and others urged Hamas to carry out more attacks
- Demontrators handed out sweets to marchers as a sign of jubilation
- Arab satellite TV stations interrupted their normal news programmes
to break the news of the killings, and Muslim leaders praised
the bombers’ “heroic operation” over mosque
- A statement by Hamas threatened new Jewish immigrants to Israel:
“This is a gift to the newcomers… we say to you, this
is your fate….”
Vilification of Israel, and celebration of terror,
have become hallmarks of Palestinian culture. The successors
to Yasser Arafat, and Palestinian society generally, face the
challenge of rooting out not only the groups who commit mass
murder, but the glorification of their deeds.
Hamas spokesmen claimed that the attacks were “revenge”
for Israel’s targeted assassinations of Hamas leaders
Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and Dr Abdel-Aziz earlier in 2004 (in
the three years before Yassin and Rantisi were killed, Hamas
had carried out 42 suicide bombings in Israel, killing 446
Israeli civilians). Apparently no-one told the Palestinian
perpetrators that “revenge”was their “motive”.
In a videotape made prior to the attacks, and released afterwards,
one of the bombers recited a dedication of the attack to Palestinian
prisoners, and appeared to forget that he was meant to mention
that he was “avenging” the Hamas leaders (reported
in Haaretz, 1 September).
The Hebron-based family of one of the killers, Naseem Jabari,
accused Hamas of “brainwashing” him into carrying
out the attack (same source).