Palestinian suicide bomb

Another Palestinian suicide bomb leaves 15 dead, this time on a bus in Haifa. However else you look at the situation in Israel and Palestine, I think most people can agree such suicide bombs against civilian targets are utterly disgusting and completely unacceptable. That aside I have a few questions on these “crimes against humanity” (as I think Amnesty International has damned them)

  1. When was the first Palestinian suicide bomb?
  2. Historically other people have used such tactics (e.g. Kamakazis), but none of these seems fitting inspiration for the Palestinians. Did they (re)invent it for themselves, or what were their inspirations?
  3. Do they really believe all that rubbish about buggering 72 doe-eyed virgins? Or is this just something reported in western media?

Kamakazis were military pilots who flew military planes into military targets.

no real answer but a bit of trivia, per my political sci professor. He is a palestinian fwiw, but he said that a.) hamas doesn’t recruit the suicide bombers, the suicide bombers go to hamas. b.) they don’t take married people, etc…it’s just the dorks with some kind of axe to grind who’re looking to die.

Firstly you are right, I believe it was the Rome Treaty that defined murder as a catergory of crimes against humanity and Amnesty International did say this in their report on suicide bombings in Israel and the OT.

  1. The first suicide bombing took place in April 1993 and was carried out by Hamas.

  2. The main inspiration where the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka, who pioneered this technique

  3. It is a factor mainly played up by the western media, though a few may believe it. Of course many do believe they will go straight to paradise, but I would not say that is their motivation.

I believe at Afula in 1994. Responsibility claimed by Hamas.

It started with the Iran-Iraq War ( which began in 1979 ). Khomeini and coherts, partly out of genuine religious zeal, partly out of perceived necessity, and partly out a misperception of the reasons for Iranian success in expelling the initial Iraqi invasion, came up with a theological justification for suicide attacks. These weren’t specifically aimed at creating suicide bombers, but rather for inspiring the Basiji corps ( fervent young light infantry ) in “human wave” infantry assaults. A sort of religious justification for the old French concept of superior elan winning the battle.

This message was exported to Lebanon via the unit of Pasdaran ( Iranian Revolutionary Guards ) assigned to help aid the young Hezbollah militia ( fellow Shi’ites ). They ( or some semi-affiliate or off-shoot ) came up with the idea of suicide bombs - The result of which was the marine barracks bombing in Beirut in 1983. This was one of the earliest suicide bombing in the MENA.

From there the theological reasoning was picked up by some militant fundamentalist Sunni groups, of which the Palestinian groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad numbered. From there it was transmitted to the occupied territories/Israel.

The “72 houris” ( spirits, of sorts, without getting technical ) thing may is probably believed by some/many, though it is a somewhat debated concept.

However the central thesis is that suicide attacks are a legitimate path to martyrdom under certain circumstances - So in that sense, yes, the whole idea is that you’re going to heaven for successfully carrying out such an attack.

Mainstream Islamic theology tends to label this as bunk. For many/most Muslims, like many/most Christians - committing suicide for any reason is a one way ticket to hell. However the increasing radicalization of certain segments of Islam ( especially in certain areas ) has led to the widespread adoption of some version of this philosophy of suicide-martyrdoms. There are all sorts of iterations in relation to the Palestinian conflict:

  1. Suicide attacks are never justified.
  2. Suicide attacks are justified as an action of last resort to fight oppressors. But any action against civilians is verboten.
  3. Suicide attacks are justified against any oppressor, given a misbalance of resources, including civilians implicated in expelling Muslims from their homes ( i.e. extension of bombings to Israeli settlers ).
  4. Suicide attacks are justified, yadda, yadda, yadda - All Israelis are legitimate targets for tacitly supporting their government in oppressing Muslims ( this is ObL’s justification for targetting American civilians, incidentally ).

It is worthwhile noting though, that the most prolific employer of suicide bombing tactics to date is not any Palestinian group, but the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in Sri Lanka ( starting in 1987 - they probably got the idea from Lebanon as well, but went with the idea for tactical, rather than religious reasons ).

  • Tamerlane

In relation to MC’s comment on the Tigers inspiring groups like Hamas - that is not entirely correct as the religious justification reaches back rather earlier as outlined above ( and indeed the theological argument rests in part on even older classical arguments ). However it is likely partially so, as they were the ones that really took off with the idea. What we have is multiple feedback cross-pollinating among different terrorist organizations for different purposes, but converging on a common tactic.

  • Tamerlane

You know, something just occurred to me for the first time.

You can almost blame Saddam Hussein for the origin of suicide bombers in the ME. After all he was the one who launched the invasion of Iran that set in motion this chain of events.

Of course, perhaps the ayatollahs would have come up with the idea eventually ( hard to say ). And certainly it wouldn’t have mean a lot less violence, necessarily. Palestinians were bombing people and places long befor suicide attacks came into vogue ( suicide attacks are just harder to guard against ). But it is an interesting line of though.

  • Tamerlane

wait a minute.

I don’t have my references in front of me, but doesn’t the origin of suicide attackers go back to the cult of the “Assassins”?

The hashish smoking guy that thought the Allah’s paradise (and virgins) was waiting upon completion of his mission?

Isn’t the suicide bomber just the modern day version of this?

Nowadays an “assassin” has a bomb as a weapon; back when the cult was started [I don’t know of the top of my head, but let’s say a thousand years ago] the weapon was a dagger.

Bomb versus dagger. Don’t they still think they’re going to get to screw virgins in Allah’s pardise?

Well, first a nitpick - Despite the idea’s wide dissemination, far as anyone can tell, the Nizari assassins did NOT use hashish as a regular practice. The name hashishi is local only to Syria and was probably just used as an expression of contempt for the Nizaris as wild heretics. It was only later that various western authors derived from that the idea that the assassins got themselves stoned as part of ceremonies or before committing murders.

As to the main question - Yes and no. The Nizari fidawis weren’t necessarily suicides, though they were prepared to die in what were often essentially suicide attacks ( and most did ). Death on a mission was accounted a great honour, but it wasn’t always a foregone conclusion. Also they considered it more humane to kill one key figure than a multitude and they pretty much stayed within the confines of what they would have defined ( we might not - they included religious leaders, though to some extent such were part of the political establishment at the time ) as non-civilian targets. However in respect to the idea that they were promised paradise for matyrdom - Yes, in that respect they were similar.

However, the Imami Shi’ites of Iran are not Nizaris ( who were and are Isma’ili Shi’ites ) and it was not specifically back to the Assassins that Khomeini et al reached for justification. Instead you might say that they used similar justification, but arrived at the idea independantly.

  • Tamerlane