Marking the 22nd anniversary of the Jaffa Road bus bombings, perpetrated in 1996 by Hamas, the movement’s military wing, the ‘Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades, posted on its website a special supplement devoted to these attacks.
The bombings, dubbed “The Holy Revenge” by Hamas, were carried out in retaliation for the Jan. 5, 1996 killing of senior Hamas operative Yahya Ayyash, who was responsible for several other suicide attacks. The special online supplement included two long articles about their planning and execution, a review of each one, photographs of their aftermath and a video documenting one of them.
Following publication of the supplement, Mustafa Al-Sawwaf, a columnist for the Hamas mouthpiece, published an article calling for the renewal of suicide attacks against Israel.
The Special Supplement On The Al-Qassam Website: Articles In Praise Of The 1996 Bus Bombings
The special supplement on the Al-Qassam Brigades website included two long articles in which Hassan Salameh, the Al-Qassam commander who masterminded the attacks and is incarcerated in Israel, describes in detail how they were planned and executed, including the recruitment of the suicide bombers. Salameh praises the martyrs and the attacks they perpetrated, and especially their love of jihad and their willingness to sacrifice their lives.
In the first article, Salameh is quoted as saying: “This is a story about the love of sacrifice of Al-Qassam members who knew the path and stayed on it, and bequeathed to those who came after them a jihad that still continues. . . . Today, we remember the heroes of these operations, the martyrs whom Allah chose after they gained the honor of perpetrating large-scale attacks.”
In the second article, Salameh is quoted as saying: “The mission of the martyrdom-seeker, Al-Qassam Brigades member Majdi Abu Warda, was to board the number 18 bus [in Jerusalem] with a journalist’s bag on his back, loaded with explosives. . . . Later we agreed that the target of the next [attack] would again be the number 18 bus, in a challenge to the Israeli security forces and in order to ridicule them, since they didn’t expect us to choose the same target again . . . ”
Incendiary language: ‘The Zionist Occupation Is Criminal’
Following the publication of the supplement, Mustafa Al-Sawwaf, a columnist for the Hamas mouthpiece Al-Risala, called for the renewal of suicide attacks and wondered whether the publication of the supplement on the ‘Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam website is an indication that they are about to be renewed.
He wrote: “Are we about to see actions similar to those carried out by the imprisoned commander Hassan Salameh? Is the [supplement] about the Holy Revenge attacks, published by the ‘Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades, [aimed at] granting permission to the heroes of the West Bank to start renewing such attacks? Is this . . . the code word, following which we will witness the first suicide attack, one like those that shocked Israel and forced it to seriously re-think its treatment of the prisoners and the members of the resistance . . . ?
“Does the execution of the martyr [Yassin] Al-Saradih [killed on Feb. 22 while attacking IDF soldiers in Jericho] mean that suicide attacks will be the headline of the coming period? Will we witness suicide attacks that will redeem the reputation of the quality attacks that shook the Zionist entity and can cause the leaders of the occupation, who call for the field execution of Palestinians, to think again?
“The Zionist occupation is criminal, and criminals should be met with firm action, namely with suicide attacks against anything that is Zionist. If anyone objects that this [i.e. Israel] is a civilian society and that international law prohibits suicide attacks against civilians, we should say: ‘Where was the international law when Mohammed Abu Khdeir was kidnapped, tortured and murdered? Or when the Dawabsha family was burned? Where was the international law when ‘Abd Al-Fattah Al-Sharif [the Palestinian shot by IDF soldier Elor Azaria after knifing an Israeli soldier] was executed in Hebron? And where was it when the martyr Al-Saradih was executed? Is this a civilian society or a society in which everyone is armed? . . .
“Those who shed crocodile tears over international law and humanism should be punishing the occupation and forcing it to obey [the international law] before they admonish the Palestinians who have nothing but their souls to sacrifice for the sake of the occupied homeland. . . . The Palestinians should not be condemned for their actions even if they do violate international law, which is discriminatory and equates the victim with the murderer. When international law is just, and when those who follow it are fair-minded people, only then will Palestinians be bound by it.”
The full article can be read on the MEMRI website here.