There is probably nothing that could do more damage to the Palestinian cause
than the ongoing campaign of suicide bombings, which must cause even sympathizers
to question the character of the Palestinian national movement.
The bombings continued with an attack today that killed at least 19 Israeli civilians and wounded dozens more.
In their war against Israel, Palestinian terrorists have devised original, innovative ways of killing people that have not been widely reported.
"We see here things you don't usually see in civilian hospitals," observed Dr. Avi Rivkind, director of the trauma unit at Hadassah University Hospital in Jerusalem.
For example, he said that nails, ball bearings and other penetrating objects carried by suicide bombers had on occasion been laced with rat poison, which promotes internal bleeding in those wounded victims who are not killed immediately. To combat the effects of the poison, Israeli physicians have used Factor VII, a coagulation protein used to treat hemophilia. Factor VII is contra-indicated for trauma, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, said Dr. Rivkind, but "it works, so we use it anyway."
But rat poison is "insignificant relative to other blast effects," said Dr. Michael Stein, trauma director at the Rabin Medical Center near Tel Aviv. In addition to hundreds of Israeli fatalities, thousands of non-combatants have suffered penetrating wounds and burns since the Palestinian uprising began in September 2000. Over 1,700 Palestinians have died.
Suicide bombers do not simply transport the explosive weapon that they use to murder their targets. In several respects, the bombers themselves become the weapon.
Thus, Dr. Stein noted the new phenomenon of "human shrapnel," in which fragments of the terrorist's bones serve as projectiles causing indiscriminate injury.
Another novel development is the role of communicable disease in terrorist attacks. Several Palestinian suicide bombers were found to be positive for Hepatitis B, according to Dr. Stein. As a result, all survivors of such attacks who are admitted to the trauma ward are now routinely vaccinated against Hepatitis B, he said.
In one case, tissue pathology studies conducted several weeks after a terrorist attack revealed that a terrorist was HIV positive. "We haven't figured out what to do about that," Dr. Stein said on June 4.
A Palestinian suicide bomber who struck June 17 was HIV positive, according to al Jazeera, the Qatar-based Arabic news channel. The al Jazeera report, noted by the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz, was not mentioned in U.S. coverage of the incident.
"We are against armed attacks that target Israeli civilians, because they did not benefit our political efforts," said Palestinian intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Amin al-Hindi. See his May 27 interview in the Palestinian paper Al-Quds:
Yet even this equivocal rejection of suicide bombing may be a minority view among Palestinians, many of whom passively support attacks on Israeli civilians or actively celebrate them. Thus, the father of the man who blew up a bus full of passengers in Jerusalem today told Reuters he was "very happy" to hear that his son was the bomber.
Amid the unfathomable devastation, it is still possible to find glimmers of human dignity.
In accordance with elementary medical ethics, Israeli medical facilities treat all comers, Jewish and Arab, Israeli and Palestinian, said Dr. Rivkind of Hadassah. "Everybody is receiving the same treatment," he said, while noting that one of the Hadassah medical staff, a Dr. Gillis, had been killed by a sniper's bullet. "We are proud that Hadassah is an island of equality."
Among the numerous organizations working with compassion and skill to provide support to survivors of terrorism and to heal those wounds that can be healed is Natal, the Israel Trauma Center for Victims of Terror and War.
Secrecy News is written by Steven Aftergood and published by the Federation of American Scientists.
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