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Home   »  Resources  »  Miscellaneous Resources  »  Understanding the Conflict: A ...  »  PART ONE: The Crisis

Who are the "suicide bombers" and why are they killing themselves and others?


The intifada, or uprising, that began in September 2000 has seen a new phenomenon in Palestinian resistance--suicide bombings. These are attacks in which a young man or woman straps explosives around their body, and detonates the charge in a public place, killing themselves and often killing and injuring many people nearby.

Islamist organizations, such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad which have generally (though not always) opposed Palestinian diplomatic efforts, have claimed responsibility for most of the suicide bombings. Beginning in early 2002, the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade linked to the mainstream Fatah organization led by Yasir Arafat, began a suicide bombing campaign inside Israel following the assassination of one of their leaders.

Some of the suicide bombings have been directed at military checkpoints or other military targets inside the occupied territories. Others, including some of those with the most serious civilian casualties, involved attacks on cafes, discos or other public places inside Israeli cities.

Arafat and the Palestinian Authority that he leads have repeatedly condemned suicide bombings inside Israel. Perhaps more influentially, leading Palestinian intellectuals and activists in the occupied territories and internationally have also rejected suicide attacks on civilians as a legitimate tactic of resistance, identifying them both as morally unacceptable and politically counter-productive.


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