The young woman was stopped at the guard post at the busy French Hill intersection yesterday morning in north Jerusalem. The two soldiers were suspicious of her, a religious Arab student. She saw that she was not going to get through to the crowd at the bus stop beyond, so she pressed the button igniting her bomb, killing herself of course and the two Israeli soldiers. Both of them happened to be Ethiopian immigrants, Menashe Komemi and Mamoya Tahio, both from large families, one of which had lost a brother in fighting in Nablus last year. This was the first suicide bombing in Jerusalem for 7 months.
The father of the young woman, Zayneb abu Salem, 18, collapsed when told what she had done. Her family was distraught, not knowing of her recruitment by friends into the Fatah al Al Aksa Martyr’s Brigade in Nablus. She was apparently determined to kill Jews to avenge the death of a favorite cousin who was killed in fighting last year. In order to deter future suicide attempts her family house and that of her “handler” were demolished.
The terrorist groups are now recruiting impressionable young women and minors, since they are much more able to infiltrate through the checkpoints and roadblocks, because the young Israel soldiers are less suspicious of them. The question is how Zayneb managed to pass thru several checkpoints en route from Nablus to Jerusalem with a bag containing 3-5 kg of explosives.
Last week two young women cousins gave themselves up at the busy Hawara checkpoint, after their families were contacted by a Shin Bet representative in Nablus and told what they were planning to do. Apparently their Hamas “handler” was killed in a gun battle the previous day. Somehow the evidence led to them. Their families in both cases were against their being martyrs for the cause, and called them. They were told to give themselves up and they did. After being captured they led the IDF to the suicide bombs that they had hidden. They will go to jail, but they are alive, and so are the many people they planned to kill in a double suicide bombing in Jerusalem.
The focus of the terrorist groups is now on Jerusalem and Beersheva, particularly where the Security Fence has not been built. In the once vulnerable center of the country, the Sharon region from Hadera to Tel Aviv, there have been no bombings for many months and the toll is down by 90% since last year. I never agreed with those who said that there is “no military solution to this problem,” that is too facile. Of course there is, and the IDF have developed one. There are only a limited number of terrorists who are able to be the brains behind the scene, these are the ones that must be targeted. Israel was reluctant at first to target the top leaders, but as the toll of bodies mounted this policy changed, and now there are few terrorist leaders who have been in their positions for more than a year. At the local level, when a terrorist leader is killed, tradition has it (in the very feudal Palestinian society) that his next older brother inherits his place (it is usually not a question of who is the most dedicated or better fighter). So it is known who is the next in line to be targeted. This can go on only for so long until the leadership is decimated. Add to this the military incursions where gunmen are killed and captured, and information is obtained, and you have an effective counter-insurgency program. To overcome their limitations the Palestinian terrorist organizations are now scraping the bottom of the barrel, using young women and children. Such is our enemy.