The world press on the Haifa bombing

From the BBC, the biography of a female suicide bomber.


Compiled by Laura McClure
October 8, 2003 2:05AM (UTC)

United Kingdom, Verity Murphy in BBC News

Hanadi Tayseer Jaradat, who killed 19 people in an attack on a Haifa restaurant on Saturday, was the fifth woman to carry out such an attack since the current intifada began.

Jaradat was just days away from qualifying as a lawyer when she left home at 0730 -- earlier than usual -- on Saturday.

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Her family says she did not tell anyone where she was going and they assumed she was on her way to the law office in Jenin where she worked.

Instead, Jaradat went north to the bustling Israeli seaside town of Haifa, managing to slip through the cordon thrown over the West Bank by Israel as a precautionary measure for the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur.

Despite the vigilance of guards and staff at Israeli eateries, Jaradat was able to walk right into the heart of the beachfront Maxim's restaurant -- a popular family venue jointly owned by Jews and Arabs and frequented by an equally mixed clientele.

Four children were among those killed as Jaradat detonated her vest packed with explosives ...

According to her family, Jaradat completed her law studies in Jordan five years ago and subsequently began an apprenticeship to qualify fully as a lawyer -- something she was due to complete next week.

As a Palestinian born and raised in Jenin, a prime recruiting ground for Islamic Jihad and the scene of frequent clashes between Israelis and Palestinians, Jaradat would have been no stranger to the problems gripping the Middle East.

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However, on 12 June this year those problems came sharply into focus when an undercover squad of Israeli soldiers, searching for her militant brother and cousin, killed the two men.

Her family say Jaradat was inconsolable, that she had always been religious, fasting twice a week in a sign of piety, but after the deaths this became even stronger. She began studying the Koran and fasting throughout daylight hours every day.

The west Jenin village of Sila Alkhartiya, where her family live, is known for its connections to Islamic Jihad, and her brother was one of the group's leaders -- Jaradat's desire to strike back was easily satisfied.

"The only thing that would push her to do that would be to avenge my brother's death," said her 15-year-old brother Thaher.

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And for the militant group, Jaradat would have proved an attractive prospect -- a pretty, intelligent Arab woman capable of evading the usual security checks Israel has in place to block such atrocities.

Jaradat's relatives claim they were shocked when they heard it was Jaradat who had carried out the attack, but they had no tears for those slain:

"We are receiving congratulations from people," Thaher said. "Why should we cry? It is like her wedding today, the happiest day for her."

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Even as Jaradat's family praised her final act, they hurriedly packed up their belongings before the inevitable -- Israeli forces razed their home to the ground on Saturday -- standard practice for the relatives of suicide bombers.

United Arab Emirates, editorial in the Gulf News

A bombing of a restaurant is not the right way to take the struggle against the Israelis forward. There are other and better tactics to use against Israel, but one can only wonder at the desperation that leads a young Palestinian lawyer to the decision to kill herself while killing many others. It speaks volumes for the horror that so many in Palestine have lived with, that such a course of action can even be contemplated.

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However, calls for restraint have been totally ignored. Israel accused Syria of harboring and funding Islamic Jihad, and has used its alleged evidence (films of training) to justify this attack as part of the worldwide war against terror.

Israel did not make this evidence public, nor did it seek any other more peaceful route than all out violence.

This evidence is suspicious. Israeli claims of "terrorist" training camps have been comprehensively denied. An Islamic Jihad spokesman said that there were no Islamic Jihad bases in Syria. "All our bases are inside the Palestinian occupied territories," said Abu Emad El-Refaei in Beirut; and a senior commander of the PFLP-GC has said that this camp used to be one of the PFLP-GC bases but it is now out of use.

Israel is unlikely to face much pressure from American President George W Bush over this attack since Bush himself introduced the concept of pre-emptive war. As widely feared, it allows states to strike at those it wishes, with little hindrance or come-back. Any powerful state is now in the position of being able to attack those it wishes, using the war against terror as the perfect excuse ...

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It is very clear that Israel does not plan to contemplate any kind of peace, if it is willing to both continue its active war against the Palestinians, but also to do so in the territory of a sovereign nation.

Saudi Arabia, editorial in the Arab News

No one doubted that there would be Israeli reprisals after Saturday's suicide bomb attack in Haifa. But no one in their wildest dreams imagined that the target would be Syria.

Why Syria? For all its hard-line rhetoric against Israel, there has not been a shot fired across the makeshift frontier on the Golan Heights for years. If the Israelis were seriously interested in hitting Islamic Jihad, they could have done so far more effectively in the Gaza Strip or with a strike on one of its bases in Lebanon. Yet they chose a target deep in Syrian territory even though both the Syrians and Islamic Jihad deny there are any bases there.

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This was no message to Islamic Jihad. It was a cold, unambiguous threat to Syria: Either jump to Israel's diktats or else ... Immediately after the strike, the Israelis then warned Syria there would be more if it did not close down so-called terrorist organizations.

An inevitable conclusion must be that the Israelis were acting on behalf of the U.S.; it is difficult to believe that they would have struck without the green light from Washington. We know that the Americans have loudly accused Syria of supporting terrorism and warned it to stop. Damascus is further seen by the Americans as a problem in Iraq, providing support to officials of the former regime and allowing Syrian volunteers to cross the border and join in attacks on U.S. troops. The notion that Washington used the Israelis to threaten the Syrians into line makes too much sense to be dismissed.

But whether the Americans were actively behind this attack -- and the remote possibility exists that a manic Ariel Sharon acted alone, ordering the attack to ingratiate himself even further with Washington -- it is a terrifying development. This could have potentially catastrophic results. It could well end in war ...

What matters is that, at a stroke, the whole region has been put in immense and immediate danger. Sharon is on the rampage; he must be reined in -- fast.

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Israel, Uzi Benziman in Haaretz

Feelings of frustration and rage that grip the heart after a terror attack like yesterday's in Haifa's Maxim restaurant, push aside individual and public powers of reasoning ...

Such feelings are also likely to lead to a vicious circle of reprisal and counter-reprisal, a cycle adding to the casualty toll and bringing the conflict to extreme levels from which there can be no return.

At the end of a cycle of sorrow and vengeance, both sides will find themselves faced with a necessity to coexist with one another, lest they be doomed to live endlessly in the hell which has taken hold for the past three years ...

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The lesson to be drawn from the last three years is that the two sides refuse to relinquish the original sources of the dispute -- the Palestinians are unwilling to give Israel unconditional recognition of its right to exist; Israel refuses to abandon its conquest, and it continues to expand the settlements while it negotiates with the Palestinians about a peace settlement.

Seen from the historical point of view, the occupation of the territories is a justifiable result of Arab aggression and attacks on the state of Israel. The 1948 Independence War and the 1967 Six Day War expressed the Arab people's refusal to recognize the Jewish people's right to establish a sovereign state on a small piece of territory in its historic homeland.

In retrospect, it appears that the use made by the state of Israel of its military success in 1967 has transmogrified, and become a threat to its own existence. Territories which Israel occupied and settled present a demographic threat, a security danger, an economic burden and a diplomatic problem ...

The occupation is a circumstance which must be brought to an end so as to preserve the state's moral fiber, and its capacity to survive. Should Israel's control in the territories persist, processes that cause the two sides to clash will intensify, and this fighting will eventually exhaust resources needed by both.

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The recent decision reached by the government regarding the construction and placement of the separation fence reflects its hasty, imprudent thinking. What was once a legitimate defense measure that emerged as a result of murderous terror attacks like the one in Haifa yesterday,has become a lever for land-grabbing ...

The separation fence is designed to eliminate prospects for a viable Palestinian state. For this reason, settler leaders have accepted it with equanimity. Under the design endorsed by the government, the fence will create a South African reality whose result is easily predicted.

Australia, editorial in the Age

It is understandable that the U.S. was reluctant to criticize Israel for the attack on the camp in Syria, given that it came in response to a terrorist act that killed so many innocent civilians. Nevertheless, it must do everything possible to ensure that the conflict does not escalate into a wider regional war, which means it has to pressure the Sharon government not to repeat the Syrian action.

Syria has certainly allowed Palestinian terrorists to operate from its territory in the past, and this record makes the Assad Government's present denials of complicity difficult to take at face value. Israel's government, however, surely understands the implications of extending its policy of retaliation beyond the borders of Palestine. A renewed war with the Arab world would serve the interests of terrorist groups such as Islamic Jihad, whose aim is precisely to prevent any negotiated peace and division of land between Israel and Palestine.

Although the Sharon government must know what it risks by attacking the territory of a neighbor, it appears resolved to do so again if similar circumstances arise. Neither the Palestinian nor the Israeli leadership has yet found the will to end the worsening conflict. If that is to happen, it will require concerted effort by the international community, and especially by the U.S. However, Washington will not bring about the Middle East peace it has so often called for by issuing statements that, while rightly condemning Palestinian terrorism, appear to wink at any form of retaliation Israel chooses.

United Kingdom, leader in the Guardian

The attack on civilians in Haifa on Saturday by a lone suicide bomber was an act of infamy. However keen an individual's sense of grievance, however great a people's sense of injustice, there is no justifying such pitiless slaughter. Islamic Jihad, which admitted responsibility, has once again done grave disservice to the Palestinian cause. But Israel's response to the attack is equally unjustified. Its air raid deep inside Syrian territory was a reckless act typical of Israel's leader, Ariel Sharon. It will dissipate international sympathy and further entrench Arab hostility. Mr. Sharon has a genius for putting Israel in the wrong.

It is unlikely that the assault on the alleged Islamic Jihad training camp north of Damascus will curb future terrorist attacks; quite the opposite, in fact. The Maxim restaurant atrocity will meanwhile convince ever more Israelis that a peace settlement is impossible. That this escalatory cycle of attack and counter-attack is bitterly familiar does not make it any more acceptable or sane ... Syria's decision to take the matter to the UN security council last night, rather than resort to rash retaliation, provides a small glimmer of common sense in an otherwise anarchic, utterly irrational situation ...

It has long been apparent that Israelis and Palestinians are incapable of resolving their problems by themselves. In the light, or rather the shadow, of these latest events, those who stand at one remove from the front line now have a duty to re-examine both their policies and their consciences. It is all very well for Hosni Mubarak loudly to denounce "aggression against a brotherly state". What is he going to do about it? Launch, 30 years on, another Yom Kippur war? Hardly. The inescapable reality is one of Arab weakness and division in the face of U.S.-backed Israeli power ... Rather than indulge in anti-Israeli posturing at an emergency Arab League meeting, Arab leaders should tell Yasser Arafat to stop playing politics or else stand down ...

As for George Bush, he certainly needs to think again -- and act quickly. U.S. pressure on Syria and Iran has been intense of late. Far from reining in Mr. Sharon, Washington's effete, partial policy seems to have emboldened him to attack, to escalate, to spread the conflict in the much-abused name of the "war on terror", while actively subverting the road map. This is no Bush-ian vision of a transformed, peaceful Middle East. This is a vision of hell, of a Haifa every day.

Hong Kong, Gregory Sinaisky in Asia Times

Do you wonder what President George W. Bush reads at night? Westerns? Methodist sermons? His favorite, it seems, are popular military histories by Professor Victor Davis Hanson, who reads classics in the California state university system ... His book Why the West Has Won has a place on the president's night-table.

In [a London] Times story, Hanson unintentionally explained to Times journalist Giles Whittell precisely how it is that radical Islam might destroy the West, namely, by "cherry-picking Western culture". He said, "If you're a Wahhabi mullah and you want American antibiotics for your daughter's strep throat, do you deny her them because that's the country that gives the world [television shock jock] Jerry Springer? If you're a Saudi sheikh and you want a heart bypass or Viagra, do you go without because it's contaminated with Western decadence? I don't think so. It's as if they don't realize that the whole supporting infrastructure ... is a product of a complex system of secularism, rationalism, tolerance, sexual equality, consensual government and free expression ... they've tried for 50 years to cherry-pick the West and it doesn't work well."

Despite himself, Hanson has put his finger on the reason militant Islam well might defeat the West. It can cherry-pick Western culture, e.g., weapons of mass destruction ... The challenge to the United States comes not from ignorant relics who do not understand the US, but from a generation of Western-educated Muslims who understand the US perfectly well, and would rather be dead than be absorbed into it.

Today's raiders are not horsemen but terrorists, and their objective is not to conquer territory but to demoralize the populations of the West ... Flushing out the terrorists is a wearisome, dirty, costly chore that threatens to exhaust the patience of Western populations.

The winner in this game is the one who best can tolerate instability. U.S. policy remains obsessed with bringing stability to the Middle East, no matter how much the U.S. must spend. Bush gambled and lost a good deal of his reputation blowing soap-bubbles about an Israeli-Palestinian peace initiative.

Islamic radicals benefit from instability ... More chaos means more recruits and less patience on the part of Americans. At the point that American patience with counterinsurgency operations in distant theaters has exhausted itself, only then launch the next mega-terrorist attack. It is not hard to imagine the will of the West gradually eroding over a decade or two.


Compiled by Laura McClure

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