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Last Updated: Thursday, 25 March, 2004, 12:58 GMT
'Little bomber' fascinates Israeli media
Reporters surround the boy Husam Abdu
In the glare of the media

The case of a 14-year-old Palestinian boy captured wearing a vest packed with explosives at a West Bank checkpoint makes the headlines in Israel's media and prompts condemnation of the people who sent him out to die.

Viewers saw footage of what Israeli television called a "mentally challenged" boy stopped at a checkpoint south of Nablus.

The boy, Husam Abdu, was shown standing at a distance from the Israeli soldiers whilst he was instructed in Hebrew how to remove the vest.

'Frightened child'

"After a roughly 40-minute drama in full view of the cameras filming a frightened child wearing an eight-kilogram explosive vest, Husam managed to take off the explosive charge," the TV reported.

In the Israeli press on Thursday pictures of "the little bomber", as they call him, dominate the front pages.

Some show him dressed in an oversized army jacket, others picture him bare-chested, having removed the suicide belt at the roadblock.

I wanted virgins in heaven
Yediot Aharonot

The boy became shy, Jerusalem Post reports, asking the Israeli troops, "Do I have to take my clothes off here?"

The paper praises the "quick-thinking" of the Israeli paratroopers who noticed the boy.

"It is sad and tragic," a battalion commander tells the paper. "My soldiers spotted Abdu as he pushed through the line of Palestinians waiting to undergo inspection."

"Seeing the soldiers' weapons, he became frightened and told the soldiers he was scared," the commander said, adding that the soldiers' quick action also "saved the lives of 200 Palestinian men, women, and children who were at the roadblock".

"Blowing myself up is the only chance I've got to have sex with 72 virgins in the Garden of Eden," The Post quoted Husam as saying his handlers had told him.

His family said the teenager had acted strangely on Tuesday, inexplicably handing out sweets, getting his hair cut in the style his mother liked, and telling her he would do anything she wanted.

"You are never like this," The Post quoted her as saying, "What's happened?"

He replied: "I just want you to be happy with me."

Unloved

"I wanted virgins in heaven," is the headline in the Hebrew paper Yediot Aharonot. It quotes the boy as telling his interrogators: "My teacher told me what was waiting for me in heaven so I decided to commit suicide."

The boy reportedly said he was scared when the belt was put on him. "Now I'm afraid my mother will be angry with me," he added.

I wanted to be the man
Ma'ariv

Yediot Aharonot asks the teenager: "What went through your mind, Husam, a second before you were stopped at the roadblock? Did your legs tremble with fear, or with the weight of the belt? Did cold sweat drench your body? Where was your mother?"

It tells him: "Children, Husam, should not be in paradise, they should be in the playground."

Ma'ariv focuses on the boy's desire to be a hero. "I wanted to be the man" is its headline.

The paper says Husam told the soldiers questioning him that he was willing to commit suicide "because people don't love me".

A Ma'ariv commentator compares those who "send boys to explode and turn into pulp" to "Satan".

And a Yediot columnist asks: "Who poisoned his soul? Who planted in him the tons of hatred that made leave home to kill and get killed?

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.




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