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Last Updated: Friday, 30 January, 2004, 14:33 GMT
From policeman to suicide bomber
I was expecting to marry him, not to bury him
Ali Munir Jaara's father
The family of the latest Palestinian suicide bomber have expressed shock at his involvement in the attack because he was due to be married next week.

Before Ali Munir Jaara went out to kill 10 Israelis and injure dozens more on a Jerusalem bus, he left a note saying he wished to avenge the deaths of five gunmen and three other Palestinians in an Israeli raid on Gaza City Wednesday.

In the aftermath of Thursday's bombing, both the al-Aqsa Martyrs and Hamas groups reported that Jaara had carried out the attack in their name.

But this appears to have been an unusual recruit for the militants, for Ali Munir Jaara was a Palestinian policeman.

His father expressed surprise at the family home near Bethlehem shortly before reports arrived that an Israeli demolition squad was on its way. "I was expecting to marry him, not to bury him. This is just not my son. I just couldn't believe it."

Jaara's mother wept uncontrollably for her policeman son, the sole breadwinner in a house of 10 children.

"These operations are not only not good for us, but really bad for us," said his 26-year-old sister Ola. "They only hurt us."

Family members remembered Ali as a quiet and devout Muslim who had shown little interest in politics.

Troubled force

If anything might have stopped Jaara from mounting his attack it might have been his imminent wedding and the needs of this family.

Wrecked bus in Jerusalem
The explosion tore through the bus shattering windows

It is questionable whether loyalty as a police officer to the Palestinian Authority's commitment to peace with Israel would have weighed greatly with him.

Palestinian policemen have come under attack regularly in Israeli operations against militants in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with officers killed in gun battles and police stations demolished.

On 8 March 2002, a deputy police commander, Major General Ahmed Mefraj, was killed by Israeli troops in a day of heavy fighting in the Gaza Strip.

It is unclear to what extent policemen have actively taken part in attacks on Israel. One of the main demands made of the Palestinian security services, by the international community and by Israel, is that they keep militant groups in check.

However politicians there have accused the Palestinian police force of recruiting active militants and the Israeli security forces have accused it of channelling funds to militants.

Following Thursday's blast, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon accused the Palestinian authorities of not "lifting a finger to remove the scourge of terrorism from its midst".


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