Outrage Over ‘Baby Bomber’ Pic

JUNE 28, 2002 / 12:44 PM EDT / AP

A photo of a Palestinian baby dressed as a suicide bomber with ammo belts and explosives strapped to its body and a Hamas headband is real according to a relative of the child.

The British television network Sky News interviewed a man who said he was the baby’s uncle. The man said the picture — which appeared in Israeli newspapers Friday — was authentic. Col. Miri Eisin, a senior intelligence analyst for the army, said the ammunition probably was not real.

“The picture was originally taken during a rally or a graduation party at the university,” the baby’s uncle, who wasn’t identified, said. “There were TV stations there, photographers, and I think the picture was circulated after it was published by these agencies or over the Internet.”

Sky News filmed him from the back in low light to conceal his identity at his request.

Eisin said the picture was found Tuesday in the family album of a senior member of Hamas who is wanted by the army during a search of his home in the (Judaean Hills) city of Hebron. She said she did not know if the baby — who appeared to be about 12 to 18 months old — was the Hamas activist’s son or relative.

She refused to identify the wanted man. Eisin said soldiers photographed the picture and left the original in the family album. She said the soldiers had been looking in the family album for an up-to-date picture of the wanted Palestinian.

Pictures and video of children ages five and older dressing up as suicide bombers, including footage of kindergarteners playing shaheed at school, are not uncommon.

At a Hamas rally in the Gaza Strip on Friday, a boy about 10 was seen wearing fake explosives around his waist. But the picture of the baby was unusual and incensed Israelis who have seen 71 suicide bombings in the past 21 months. Many of the bombings have been claimed by Hamas.

Palestinian Labor Minister Ghassan Khatib said the picture wasn’t surprising and that it was understandable Palestinians would teach their children violence toward Israelis. Khatib, former director of the Palestinian polling and research group, the Jerusalem Media Communications Center, noted the most recent polls have shown more than 60 percent of Palestinians support suicide bombings.

“It doesn’t surprise me … I know exactly the mentality of the Palestinian people and I know exactly the way they think,” Khatib told The Associated Press.

The Israeli army, he said, distributed the picture to “tell the world that the Palestinians are teaching their children how to hate Israel and how to act against Israel — and I just want to say this is correct.”

He denied his words were an endorsement of suicide bombings — which the Palestinian Authority has officially condemned — saying he is against them.

Eisin said the picture shows how deep the need is for Palestinian reform: “The idea that they can educate to such a thing is just part of the ongoing deterioration.”

Dore Gold, an adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said the picture “symbolises the incitement and hatred which the Palestinian leadership has been using to brainwash an entire generation of Palestinian children who have unfortunately taken in this message like mother’s milk.”

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