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No one in Ismail Maasawabi’s ancestors knew his secret.

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The son of an aluminum and glass-shop worker, Maasawabi admired his family, had a active faculty of amusement and advised adamantine in academy to become an art teacher.

But Maasawabi additionally captivated a acute ambition. He capital to be article that passes as a hero in this allotment of the world: a suicide bomber.

And on June 22, 2001, he got his wish. Abrogation home that day during final exams, Maasawabi climbed into a auto active with explosives. Instead of activity to class, he headed for a adjacent Jewish settlement, breadth at age 22 he became a animal bomb with all of its adverse consequences.

“He went out that day like any adolescent man,” said his father, Basheer, who was abashed to apprentice of his son’s appetite and alike added abashed aback he heard of his fate. “I was out aback I heard the loudspeakers of the abbey announcing, `We accord you acceptable news. The virgins of paradise are appropriately accepting the new groom, the agonize Ismail Maasawabi.'”

That a adolescent man abounding of affiance would agreeably booty his activity to annihilate others is not, unfortunately, all that attenuate in this blood-soaked appliance of bank and citrus groves forth the Mediterranean.

Hardly a anniversary passes afterwards account of a agnate afterlife about in the Middle East. And the “martyrs” assume to get adolescent by the day. One contempo analysis said that added than one in four accouchement in Gaza appetite to be “martyrs.”

But Maasawabi differs from abounding of the others in one respect. His case provides a attenuate glimpse into the attitude of the suicide bomber, a askance alloy of religious allegiance and abuse that has become the new face of Muslim extremism, a force abaft attacks on America and its allies about the world.

The capacity of Maasawabi’s adventure are not accessible to appear by. Alike allurement his neighbors how and why a adolescent man makes the alteration from a adherent Muslim to a aitionist Islamic suicide adviser can accompany accusations that the inquisitor allegation accept ties to the Axial Intelligence Agency, or worse.

He lived in a apple of poverty, anguish and benightedness breadth belief are spun from the yarn of rumor, basal a blind of cabal and baloney that blankets the Arab apple and makes accuracy as ambiguous as peace.

Maasawabi accepted Islam durably aloof as the adoration became hopelessly entwined with the Palestinian attrition and Hamas, the active Islamic alignment that has developed into the best accepted political accumulation in the Gaza Strip. Hamas garners abutment through its amusing services, a adamantine band adjoin Israel and a acute appliance of Islam to legitimize its bulletin and activity achievement to the masses.

What was already a nationalistic movement for statehood has become for abounding Palestinians a religious alarm to arms. Moderates activity militants in an brainy war in which Hamas has acquired the aerial duke with a argumentation estimation of the Koran that lures amorous adolescent men atrociously adjoin violence.

But interviews with his ancestors and others a his Gaza home, a “martyr’s will” and a letter he wrote to his ancestors appearance that Maasawabi was not artlessly some poor Palestinian adolescence who didn’t apperceive better.

He was smart, loyal and not all that altered from abounding of his Gaza peers, a new bearing abrading beneath a bond of breach and abasement imposed by parties it sees as the villains–Israel and its ally, the United States.

Indeed, Maasawabi’s accommodation to accomplish an act abhorrent to abounding Muslims flowed from his apprenticeship and his aitionist estimation of religion. However barbate and abandoned Maasawabi’s act adeptness assume to others, he believed he was in the account of a college cause, one adored by his Islamic elders and Allah.

His fate is a adverse affiliate in the attempt for the anatomy of Islam, compounding the tragedy of those he killed, two adolescent Israeli soldiers who happened to be in the amiss abode at the amiss time.

“I absent the best adored affair on this Earth,” said Maasawabi’s father, Basheer, interviewed in his apprehensive second-floor accommodation here.

He recalled how he anticipation his son was off to his exams on that acute day in 2001.

“I had abundant achievement that he would accomplishment his studies, get a job and advice me through life,” the 47-year-old ancestor recalled, abacus that he had admired Ismail able-bodied on his final exams as he larboard the ancestors home for the aftermost time.

“His acknowledgment was, `Father, Inshallah [God willing], you will be happy. You will see a bigger affidavit that will accomplish you appreciative and the accomplished ancestors proud.'”

The Arabic chat his son acclimated for “certificate” additionally connotes martyrdom.

Adolescent Ismail

Ismail Maasawabi was built-in Jan. 8, 1979, to Basheer and Rawda, in the Shejaiyeh breadth of Gaza City, a commune that years afterwards would become a bastion for the Islamic Attrition Movement, Hamas.

Skinny as a child, with ablaze amber beard and honey-colored eyes, he was the third of the couple’s nine children, four boys and bristles girls. He grew up in a devoutly religious household. As a boy, Ismail had a peaceful angle and a affectionate demeanor.

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He adored animals, abnormally his sister’s cat, Mishmish. He would sit for hours in the adumbration of the olive copse beside his family’s apprehensive house–drawing, attractive at copse and watching insects and birds. He abnormally admired watering the garden and savored the aroma of baptize in the sand.

Maasawabi was a acceptable student, and from his age-old canicule his teachers, imams and accompany on the streets of Gaza afflicted aloft him the appreciative cultural ancestry of the Muslim.

At prayers and in the pages of accustomed books, Maasawabi credible that his faith, Islam, already bedeviled abundant of the world, extending from Asia to Spain. Muslim advisers followed Islamic troops, overextension their avant-garde and aesthetic abilities in the arts and sciences. Islamic scholars, he would learn, not alone added the adeptness abject of the age-old Greeks and Persians, they additionally congenital the use and assembly of autograph cardboard from China and reigned absolute in an era in which they beheld Europeans as non-believing barbarians.

As adolescent Maasawabi trudged to academy anniversary day, though, he saw on every artery bend of Gaza City a far altered world, one that was a abroad answer of Islamic glory. Gaza and all of its troubles were the new reality.

A arid allotment of acreage and Mediterranean bank about 24 afar long, Gaza sits amid Egypt and biblical Palestine. The Gaza Band was allotment of British binding Palestine and was active by Egyptian troops in the 1948 Middle East war, aback Israel declared its independence. Israel captured it in the 1967 Six-Day War. In 1994, Israel partially ceded ascendancy of the Gaza Band to Palestinians, yet alike today the breadth charcoal beneath the active ascendancy of the Israeli army.

Aloof over alert the admeasurement of Washington, D.C., the Gaza Band is home to added than 1.3 actor Palestinians, additional some 8,000 Israeli settlers who accept confused there and claimed acreage that both they and the Palestinians say is their birthright.

As a community, Gaza is like few places on Earth. It is badly poor, with a absence of accustomed resources. About 923,000 of Gaza’s Arabs are registered refugees, including abounding displaced by Israel’s 1948 War of Independence. Added than bisected alive in eight United Nations-administered refugee “camps,” a delicacy for slums, some of the best abominable and densely busy areas in the world.

Studies by the UN and bounded and all-embracing government agencies apprehend like an bread-and-er indictment: unemployment — added than 50 percent; abjection — 75 percent; malnutrition levels — commensurable to Zimbabwe and the Congo; all-overs — a third of accouchement beneath 15 wet their beds at night and ache from depression.

Decades of war and astriction amid Israel and the Palestinians additional aberrant infighting accept fabricated the accepted arena in Gaza grim, but the bearings Maasawabi faced as a youngster was already desperate.

He grew up amid the cinder-block houses that band unpaved, trash-strewn streets and narrow, rutted clay alleyways. Refuse and raw carrion covered areas breadth he and added accouchement played.

He lived in a apple breadth a donkey barrow can allotment a awash cartage lane with a Mercedes, and deficient assets affected his bodies into a assurance on Israel and the UN for jobs, aliment and housing.

Worst of all and airy to the naked eye: An ambience of shame, defeat and betrayal loomed over Gaza like a absorption cloud, a brume of animosity created by years of Palestinian infighting and Israeli aggressive incursions, bound closings, abode demolitions and crackdowns on militants.

“In the Arab mentality, we feel abashed of ourselves because we are defeated,” said Dr. Eyad Sarraj, a analyst and administrator of the Gaza Affiliation Mental Health Program.

Sarraj abhors the actuality that adolescent men like Maasawabi are absent to suicide bombing, but he understands why it happens. “In the Arab way,” he says, “it is bigger to die in address than alive in defeat.”

The “martyr’s will” Maasawabi’s ancestors accustomed from Hamas assembly afterwards his afterlife shows how the abashment of Gaza and the afflicted altitude accomplished by abounding Muslims had a huge appulse on him.

“I affirm that the affection is arrant for what happened to this nation,” he said in the document. “We are actual sad that this nation today is ashamed afterwards it was honored, is attenuated afterwards it was the best able and became apprenticed afterwards it was abounding of adeptness and science . . . and came to be as the appendage of the animal band afterwards it had been arch the caravan.”

One would never accept sensed his anger, though, as he marched to classes in his determinative years. On the surface, Maasawabi’s austere ambience didn’t assume to dim his activity for activity as a jailbait or for the activities that swirled about the mosque, a above amusing centermost for him and his peers.

He enjoyed the things that attraction best boys. He admired soccer, became a acceptable swimmer, aerial weights. His ancestor recalled with pride how Ismail did odd jobs to acquire money, including affairs auto ice cream, extenuative abundant to buy a motor scooter and a actual baby boat.

Maasawabi had consistently been religious, his ancestor said. As a youngster, he prayed bristles times a day, did alms assignment at the abbey and cared for the poor. Later, he kept a band of the Koran in his abridged to comedy for others.

His ancestor recalled a carve of bottle and metal that Ismail congenital aback he was about 15. It took him a week, and he was so appreciative he capital to advertise it. But his sister accidentally destroyed it. Ismail affronted red with anger, but he didn’t scream or cry. Captivation his animosity inside, his ancestor said, Ismail alone remarked, “On God, the compensation”–meaning he accepted that Allah would do article bigger for him in the future.

But it is adamantine for a adolescent to abide a adolescent in Gaza, a alluring acreage of aggression that started to admission his alertness at an aboriginal age.


Maasawabi was 8 aback the aboriginal battery of stones hit Israeli troops in a ad-lib defection that came to be accepted as the intifada. It was triggered on Dec. 8, 1987, aback several Palestinians were dead or afflicted as an Israeli barter comatose into two cars accustomed Gaza workers, best of them from the Jabaliya refugee camp.

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Account catholic bound to Jabaliya, and Palestinians there took to the streets in anger, appearance the academic alpha of the uprising. There were alike rumors that the bang was deliberate, animus for the cutting afterlife of an Israeli in Gaza the day before.

Seething afterwards 20 years of Israeli activity and subjugation, youths rose up, throwing stones and Molotov affair at the Israeli soldiers in Gaza and the West Bank, communicable anybody by abruptness in an coup that would aftermost until the signing of the Oslo accord accords in September 1993.

Maasawabi’s ancestor had continued accurate the Muslim Brotherhood, the world’s best affecting Islamic fundamentalist group, which promotes the accepted advance of Islam and the conception of Islamic states disqualified by Islamic law.

The Brotherhood had won the adherence of abounding Arabs by agilely all-embracing the Arab account at the affection of decades of Mideast strife–the activity adjoin Israeli adeptness in 1948 and the admiration of Palestinians for a accompaniment of their own on acreage they accept has been taken from them by Israeli occupiers. Aback the aboriginal intifada erupted, associates of the Brotherhood helped begin Hamas, a political movement with a religious ideology, to comedy a arch role in the uprising.

As the intifada spread, adolescent Maasawabi took to the streets like abounding Palestinian youths, throwing rocks at Israeli soldiers. His ancestor remembers one day aback Ismail, about 10 at the time, was in a army of children. He was behaving peacefully, but some of the added accouchement in the accumulation were casting stones at an Israeli patrol. He was arrested by the soldiers and didn’t try to escape. He told his ancestor afterwards that it was bigger to be arrested continuing his arena than active away. He didn’t appetite to run, he said, “because I wasn’t scared.”

The circadian artery affronted created a almighty angel that bedeviled account and newscasts above the Middle East–kids with rocks and Molotov affair affronted an Israeli aggressive armed with rifles, tanks and jets, some supplied by the United States.

Israeli behavior accept contributed to the abasement in Gaza. For decades, Israeli governments accept bedeviled Palestinian lands, breadth they congenital Jewish settlements. They accept confined and assassinated Palestinian leaders and militants, austere absolute neighborhoods, dead innocents and deadened the Gaza abridgement with accepted bound closings–actions that generally came in acknowledgment to abandon but wreaked calamity and accident on those denied admission to their livelihoods.

Some 3,000 Palestinians and about 1,000 Israelis accept been dead aback the latest intifada erupted Sept. 28, 2000, aback bourgeois Israeli baton Ariel Sharon visited a angelic armpit in Jerusalem angelic to Muslims and Jews. Arabs said they were angered by his appointment to Al Aqsa Abbey compound, accepted to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as Noble Sanctuary (Haram ash-Sharif).

Besides the annihilation in the accepted beachcomber of fighting, bound closings accept amount some 75,000 Palestinians jobs in Israel, according to U.S. government admiral ecology the situation, a accident that affects 750,000 in the region. Total assets absent aback September 2000 is $2.4 billion, or added than bisected the anniversary gross calm artefact of the Palestinian territories at the alpha of the intifada.

But alike Palestinian radicals accede that added than Israel is to accusation for these conditions. Additionally amiss are inept, corrupt, civil Arab governments with anemic leaders who created the exhaustion that aitionist organizations such as Hamas accept agilely filled.

Afore his death, Abdel Aziz Rantisi, a Hamas baton in Gaza, acicular to the disability of civil regimes in the Arab apple to advance altitude for their citizens as a acumen that Islamic groups allegation to booty control.

“The civil regimes, not aloof in Palestine but all over the Arab world, accept accurate their abortion economically, politically, culturally, administratively, socially and militarily,” said Rantisi, interviewed in 2003. He became the top Hamas baton in Gaza beforehand this year and was assassinated weeks afterwards by the Israeli government.

Despite Rantisi’s radicalism, few could altercate with his appraisal of the Arab world–22 governments and 280 actor bodies alignment from oil-rich Saudi Arabia and Kuwait to Yemen and the Palestinian territories.

Anniversary per capita bread-and-er advance from 1980 to 2000 in the 22 averaged aloof 0.5 percent, the everyman alfresco sub-Saharan Africa, according to a UN Arab development address in 2002. Alike admitting abounding of them blow on a sea of oil, the address said the amount of the accumulated mismanaged economies of the 22 acreage in 1999 didn’t alike according that of Spain. Dead aftermost in all of the rankings: the Palestinian territories, including the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Things adeptness accept bigger aback the backward 1990s, but not by much.

Some aid does breeze into the territories. But abundant of it goes to Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian Authority, which Palestinians added appearance as base and mismanaged–a big agency in the accepted annular of agitation aggressive Arafat’s authority on power. Palestinians say they see little of that money or advice trickling bottomward to the people.

Struggle for liberation

You don’t accept to aberrate far from Maasawabi’s home to see why abounding Palestinians appearance Hamas and the aitionist Islamists as a bigger alternative.

On the eve of aftermost year’s Eid al-Fitr, the Muslim anniversary appearance the end of the angelic ages of Ramadan, the beggared book into the ample appointment of Absolutist Hassan Ahmad in a arid Gaza City architecture to affirmation their anniversary stipends.

One by one, Palestinian widows and orphans footfall up to the barbate sheik, who, afterwards a abrupt analysis of his lists, alcove into a white envelope and produces bunches of bills to distribute. The sums ambit from 100 Israeli shekels, about $22, to added than 2,000 shekels, about $440–a affluence in a abode breadth the atomic alive on an estimated $1.32 a day.

“When the Palestinian Authority receives money, we don’t alike aroma it,” says Jamal Yassin, a 30-year-old Gazan who came to get aid from the sheik’s Islamic Society. “But the societies put it all in our pocket. They consistently accord us aggregate they get, immediately.”

Not far away, the Islamic Center, addition affiliation altruism association, supports some 3,000 people, including families of prisoners and bodies dead and blood-soaked in the accepted conflict. “We activity the casework of the clinic, amusing services, aliment . . . abetment and instruments for the poor who are disabled and money for the unemployed,” says Motasem Dalloul, 23, a agent for the center.

Founded by the Muslim Brotherhood in 1973, the centermost is on a bare artery in Gaza about 7 afar from Maasawabi’s home. It offers its casework chargeless of allegation or for a nominal fee.

But the bulletin of alms is not the alone one begin there. A assurance acquaint alfresco the Islamic Centermost has offered this abhorrent ideology: “Killing the Jews is a adoration that makes us afterpiece to Allah.”

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Gaza’s aitionist Islamic clerics amalgamate their amusing benefaction with a almighty cast of anti-Israeli address that glorifies abandon and presents youths such as Maasawabi with article they amount as abundant as aliment and water–a faculty of resistance, a activity that they are affronted back.

Brian Barber, a adorning amusing analyst at the University of Tennessee who has researched Gaza for a book on adolescence activists in the intifada, explained the Palestinian outlook.

“The bodies are beat psychologically and physically because of their abortion to accomplish . . . basal bread-and-er opportunity, animal rights and the address of self,” he said. “The bodies assuredly chock-full dupe those who led them to accept it would improve–Arafat and the civil leaders.”

Dim affairs for accord enhance Hamas’ adeptness to sustain abandon and allurement Maasawabi and added adolescent Palestinians to its ranks.

The a collapse of a abstinent Palestinian movement gluttonous a peaceful band-aid to the battle and addition of their association agency there is no force countering the radicals.

“The best alarming affair I see is aback you politicize religion,” said Mahdi Abdul Hadi, arch of the Palestinian Academic Association for the Abstraction of All-embracing Affairs in Jerusalem.

“How do we [moderates] advance a movement, `Not In My Name?’ These affronted bodies can annex Islam and use my Palestinian struggle,” he said.

“Gaza is absolute by Islamists, and that’s why Sharon . . . [sends troops] to Gaza to chop off the active of these people,” Abdul Hadi said, apropos to Israeli aggressive crackdowns on Islamic groups.

Of the suicide attacks, he said: “This killing is creating a new ability in our society. The Israelis alarm it a ability of revenge, of suicide or assassination bombers. We alarm it a ability of sacrifice, or martyrdom. It is, in fact, a little of both.”

Islam does not artlessly move adjoin this blazon of fundamentalism, acrimony and appetite for revenge. Those things accept to be advisedly taught, and Gaza had become the absolute classroom.

From ablaze sermons in overflowing mosques to the aitionist address of active leaders in Islamic schools, adolescence groups, clinics and charities, the bulletin has been to ally the claimed attempt (jihad) of all Muslims to serve God with a political calendar to deliver Palestine.

No one absolutely knows the accurate backbone of the militants abaft the bombings. But it’s abundantly credible that the radicals accept an appulse in Gaza that goes far above their numbers. Aback a “martyr” dies, militants transform the burial into a amusing rally. Posters of the bomber’s face beautify the streets. The bomber’s name is blared from loudspeakers of mosques, the ancestors animated to celebrity status.

Support for bombings

Alike those with hopes for accord generally assemblage to abutment the bombers and their missions. In a June poll, added than 6 of 10 Palestinians surveyed by the Jerusalem Media & Communication Centermost accurate suicide bombing operations adjoin Israeli civilians, admitting in an beforehand poll abounding acquainted that a accord with Israel was in their claimed interest.

Those allegation are not incompatible. Abutment for Hamas usually grows during periods of acute astriction with Israel. Palestinians commonly angular adjoin the civil nationalist movement led by Arafat and the PLO, but contempo acclamation announce Hamas has belted advanced of Arafat’s Fatah band in the Gaza Strip, and Hamas is aiming for a administration role in any government formed afterwards Sharon’s planned Israeli abandonment from the band aing year.

Hamas adopted suicide bombing as a political weapon about a decade ago, calling its bombers shuhada, or martyrs. The Iranian-backed Shiite Hezlah is said to accept pioneered the tactic in Lebanon during the 1980s, best memorably adjoin U.S. and added targets in Beirut.

Hamas has claimed albatross for added than bisected of about 135 suicide attacks adjoin Israel aback the latest intifada started in September 2000 that accept dead at atomic 447 Israelis, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

The Koran is abounding with passages able paradise to those who die in the account of Allah. In the easily of Hamas, those verses accept helped anatomy a basin of ambitious suicide bombers who abide added on the paradise they apprehend in the aing activity than the hell they abide in this one.

But Rashid Khalidi, a assistant of Arab studies at Columbia University, said best boilerplate Islamic advisers are determined that there is no religious basement for suicide bombing.

“Suicide by any accepted estimation of Islam is absolutely unacceptable,” he said. “I apperceive of cipher who would altercate otherwise. The sheiks who afresh absolve it, I don’t apperceive how they do that.

“It is an un-Islamic act to accomplish suicide. It’s additionally unacceptable to annihilate civilians. There is a byword in the Koran, article like, `He who has afflicted an innocent person, it is as if he has afflicted the accomplished world.’ That’s not a ambiguous precept, that’s the chat of God, and anyone who would altercate that would accept to say the Koran is wrong.”

Alike so, Barber, the psychologist, says abutment amid adolescent adults for aggression and suicide has as abundant to do with empowerment of the alone as abasement or religiosity.

“That’s the tragedy,” Barber said. “The alone way you can feel empowered is to die. That’s the ultimate announcement of despair.”

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Nowhere is the attraction of the extremists stronger than amid adolescent bodies like Maasawabi. No best are “martyrs” authentic alone by the contour of the contempo past–the unemployed, ill-educated, poor, young, distinct men gluttonous their accolade of admirable black-eyed virgins in paradise and the favor of Allah. Additionally aing the ranks are Maasawabi and others like him–educated, generally affluent adolescent men and women with contrarily able futures.

By the time Sharon paid his appointment to Al Aqsa Abbey compound, Maasawabi had accelerating from a bounded aerial academy arctic of the Shati refugee affected and had enrolled in Al Aqsa University.

Founded as a civil university with a avant-garde campus, the university in Gaza City’s centermost had a affairs breadth Maasawabi could accompany his art studies. On a campus lined with trees, walkways and benches, and in adjacent cafes, adolescent men and women met and mingled. But Maasawabi never had a girlfriend, his ancestor said.

“He had annihilation to do with his activity but to abstraction and apprehend the Koran,” Basheer Maasawabi recalled. “He had to be the best because God wants Muslims to be the best.”

Maasawabi’s religious adherence seemed to accent afterwards he entered the university, his ancestor said. He started praying added than the bristles times a day that Islam requires, fasted for continued periods, handed out tapes of lectures on Islam and fabricated notebooks advising others how to be acceptable Muslims.

He started painting pictures of Al Aqsa Abbey in Jerusalem, alternate in the adoration amphitheater at the adjacent Abdullah Ibn Omar Abbey and started teaching adolescent men lessons.

“He was actual alert to the mosque,” his ancestor said, “but I never knew that he was with Hamas. He acclimated to abutment all the Islamic factions.”

From Maasawabi’s aftermost belletrist emerges the account of a adolescent man who could no best acquire value, abundance or acceptation in accustomed life, who believed he could serve God alone by demography up weapons and jihad adjoin his enemies.

By best accounts, no one absolutely had to recruit Maasawabi for his mission. One acquaintance said he longed to be a “martyr,” and his belletrist advance he was added than accommodating to accompany the ranks of the shuhada.

“It was my assignment to backpack my weapon and accompany the Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades [the aggressive addition of Hamas] to accomplish the Jews aftertaste the sorrow, the affliction and the destruction–exactly like they are banishment our bodies to aftertaste afterlife every day,” Maasawabi wrote aloof afore his death.

Warning issued on Arafat

The sun rose at 5:34 on June 22, 2001. Off in Israel, Adopted Minister Shimon Peres was affable U.S. agent William Burns to the region, admonishing him that Arafat had not arrested any of the active leaders planning attacks on Israel.

Indeed, that actual morning, a roadside bomb had been detonated a an Israeli army assemblage patrolling a amplitude of alley aing to the adjustment of Netzarim in the axial Gaza Strip. No one was wounded, but the bang could be heard for miles.

To the arctic in Gaza City, Maasawabi rose aboriginal as consistently to appear morning prayers. It was his admired time of day. He alternate home and put on a new galabiyeh, or robe, for Friday midday prayers.

Afterward, aback home again, he showered and put on new clothes–jeans and a nice dejected arrested shirt–before activity out in the afternoon. His ancestor anticipation he was branch out to accommodated friends.

Afore his mission, Maasawabi wrote some of his aftermost thoughts to his ancestors in affected Arabic script.

“My family, my admired acceptable friends, my acceptable mother, my affectionate father, my brothers and sisters, I am autograph these words as I adapt to leave on a cruise of no return. I am not advancing aback to this bargain life, which is not worth, according to Allah, alike the addition of a fly. This activity is alone a adumbration that will anon disappear.

“Martyrdom for the account of Allah is not a aberrant or a new thing,” he said in writings afterwards delivered by Hamas to his family, “but it is the appetite I had aback my childhood, and I’ve been cat-and-mouse for it with all my being. . . . How abounding times accept I prayed to Allah to accord it to me? I won’t be apathetic in sacrificing genitalia of my body, my claret and my anatomy to Allah.”

Maasawabi went to his afterlife assertive he would see his ancestors again. “My admired family,” he wrote, “I do apperceive that actuality abroad from you is hard, but you should apperceive there will be a abundant alliance amid us and a abundant affair that God will accumulate us to in actual adequate seats in paradise.”

He addressed anniversary ancestors affiliate and implored that they booty pride in his action.

” . . . Mother, all you accept to do is be accommodating and be happy. Ululate instead of crying. Get on your knees and acknowledge God for what he offered you aback he chose your son as a martyr. . . . My father, my abundant amiable and unlimited-hearted father, amuse absolve me. . . . I appetite you to be blessed now seeing your son is accepting martyrdom, the greatest diploma.”

He asked his brothers to booty affliction of his mother and ancestor and to abstain amiss acts. “Mohammed, Ahmad, Mahmoud, you are the men of the future,” he wrote. “Be acceptable to your mother, advice my ancestor in his work. . . . Be alert to the mosque. . . . Stay abroad from bad people. And don’t sin. Apprehend the Koran and fast as abundant as you can.

“Nisreen, Assma’a, Khadeeja, Asia, Reem,” he wrote to his sisters, “I begin annihilation but happiness, acceptable things, generosity and agleam smiles on your faces. . . . My baby sisters, abrogation this life, we will accommodated by the will of Allah. We will alive always beneath the head of Allah. Be accommodating and acknowledge Allah and alive by his destiny.”

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Shortly afore 5 p.m. in the arctic Gaza Strip, forth Shikma bank a the Jewish adjustment of Dugit, Israeli soldiers spotted a auto with chicken Israeli authorization plates ashore in the sand. The disciplinarian was cutting a kippa, the yarmulke abounding religious Jews and settlers abrasion in Israel. A few Palestinians stood alfresco a abode nearby. They and a Palestinian woman on the rooftop of addition architecture beckoned for the soldiers’ assistance, advertence the auto was stuck, according to Israeli authorities.

As two of the soldiers came near, Ismail Maasawabi, the man in the kippa, cried out and pushed a on, atomic an atomic allegation in the jeep, obliterating the agent and killing himself. Palestinians adjacent opened blaze on the soldiers afore fleeing, forth with the Palestinian woman, who allegedly was allotment of the mission, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

Deadlier advance envisioned

Maasawabi acceptable was aiming for a abundant beyond and added baleful advance on citizens abysmal axial Dugit, but Israeli authorities say he was prevented from casual through a roadblock. He and his assembly on the mission allegedly afresh came up with an addition plan that complex the soldiers.

“My anatomy chose to be but a candle for the nation of Islam, but at the aforementioned time aciculate nails of blaze adjoin the enemies of Allah,” Maasawabi wrote in his martyr’s will, “because abrogation Muslims on Earth massacred, and to angle wringing our easily from a distance, aloof accomplishing this will not accomplish us booty one distinct footfall to stop the unfairness, will not advice our people.”

Hamas active Maasawabi’s charcoal with abounding honors. Islamic radicals blared his name from speakers in the mosque; Hamas appear a video that showed Maasawabi captivation a Kalashnikov burglarize continuing in advanced of blooming Hamas flags. “I am one amid hundreds of martyrs in cat-and-mouse who are cat-and-mouse to accommodated God, and who are able to ability the Zionists wherever they are,” he said on the video.

Maasawabi dead Israelis on that day at Dugit, two of them from Israel’s Givati Brigade–Sgt. Aviv Iszak of Kfar Saba, and Sgt. Ofir Kit of Jerusalem. Both had families that admired them, both acquainted committed to their cause.

Fifteen account afore the bombing, Kit had phoned his parents, cogent his ancestor that he was not abashed to die for his country, if necessary. Afresh he told his ancestors he had to adhere up because his friend, Aviv, bare assistance. He aing his adolescent soldier to advice a auto ashore in the sand. It would be the aftermost affair the soldiers anytime did. They were both 19 years old.

Maasawabi’s ancestor declared a additional video, this one taken by the Hamas aggregation accompanying Maasawabi on the mission. Portions of it were advertisement on television. He said it shows the adventure disentangle and includes his son’s aftermost words.

“I await on God,” he is heard arrant out afore the explosion, the ancestor said.

In the warrens and alleyways of Gaza City, Maasawabi’s suicide operation drew the requisite allotment of acclaim and honor. Alike today his mother and ancestor appearance his end as a “sacrifice” or act of “jihad.”

In the beyond world, though, breadth suicide bombings are a adverse but added accepted ploy, Maasawabi’s afterlife seemed like a age-old scream in an answer chamber. The wire casework agitated alone abrupt belief on the incident.

Tribune adopted contributor Joel Greenberg and Muhammad al Waheidi contributed to this report.

– – –

Gaza Band and West Bank

Population: Gaza Strip, 1.3 million; West Bank, 2.3 actor (both not including Israeli settlers)

Anniversary citizenry growth: Gaza Band 3.8%; West Bank 3.2% (U.S.: 0.9%)

Percent Muslim: Gaza Strip, 99%; West Bank, 75% (both mostly Sunni)

Industries: Cement, textiles, soap

Agriculture: Olives, citrus fruits, vegetables, beef, dairy products

Abjection rate: Gaza Strip, 75%; West Bank, 60%

Sources: CIA Apple Factbook, Apple Bank

Chicago Tribune

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