Gaza’s 'ghost' suicide bombers unveiled
By Abdul Hameed Bakier
Recently, Islamic and jihadi Internet forums circulated an article entitled
"The Ghost suicide bombers. Who are they? And how do they spend their day?"
. The posting, written by the Gaza correspondent for the influential
Doha-based Islamonline website, included a short interview with the trainers of
Hamas' suicide bombers.
Islamonline's correspondent, Muhammad al-Sawaf, said the suicide bombers, known
as "ghosts" to other Gaza militants, are the first line of defense in Gaza.
They spend up to 48 hours at a time in ditches, reciting verses from the Koran
while waiting for Israeli forces to pass by in order to blow them up. The
belong to the military wing of the Izz al-Din al-Qassam battalions of Hamas.
Abu Moath, an al-Qassam leader supervising the suicide bombers, said the
bombers are very determined individuals chosen carefully by Hamas: "They live
like any other pious Palestinian youth. Some of them are university students
that go about their lives without raising unwanted attention or bragging about
their end mission. They go through a special faith program."
Since the start of the conflict in Gaza, the "ghost" suicide bombers have
isolated themselves from families and friends. They spend their time hidden
close to areas where Israeli forces deploy. On the selection criteria for
suicide bombers, Abu Moath briefly explained that only young people are chosen
from the ranks of al-Qassam’s battalions, which has up to 10,000 fighters. Abu
Moath disclosed females are also recruited to the ranks of the suicide bombers.
The candidate bombers are secretly scrutinized by al-Qassam lieutenants to make
sure they are religiously committed and responsible. The next phase is to
notify the bomber of their acceptance and put them through psychological and
military training on weapons and tactics, especially those used by the Israeli
Defense Forces (IDF). Abu Moath asserts that all through the selection and
training phases the suicide bombers are tutored by religious clerics and
On completion of training, the bombers are sent behind enemy lines. Each group
of suicide bombers is compartmentalized and does not know the location or
composition of other groups to avoid compromising their comrades if one of them
is captured by the Israelis. Abu Moath admits such captures happen very often
because the suicide bombers operate behind enemy lines. Each suicide bomber is
issued special weapons and a custom-tailored explosive belt.
Other Hamas units of suicide bombers include the "Booby-Trapped Martyrs". These
martyr units are designed to deploy on the streets and alleys of Gaza’s cities,
armed with heavier explosive belts than those used by the "ghosts". These units
are as secret and compartmentalized as the "ghost" suicide bombers and deploy
with Hamas commando units tasked with kidnapping Israeli soldiers.
Many forum chatters hailed and prayed for the "ghost " and "martyr" suicide
bombers, posting comments such as: "It is only my lack of luck that I am not
with them. I wish them all the best in this life and hereafter. May God give
them steadfastness and determination, amen."
In another interview by Islamonline correspondent al-Sawaf, al-Qassam Brigades
spokesman, Abu Obeida, said Hamas fighters had surprised the Israeli forces
with offensive attacks rather than the expected defensive operations. He said
the suicide-bomber Mahmoud al-Rifi, who he claimed stayed for days in a ditch
on the al-Raes mountain west of Gaza city and blew up an Israeli commando unit,
was one example of Hamas’ successful new guerilla warfare tactics.
However, other sources said al-Rifi did not carry out a suicide attack; rather,
he waited for Israeli forces in a ditch on the al-Raes mountain and attacked a
detachment of Israeli commandos with a machine gun, killing two Israeli
soldiers before being killed while trying to take a third injured soldier
According to earlier threats by Hamas leaders, Hamas is expected to resume
suicide bombing attacks in Israeli cities in retaliation for the war on Gaza.
Regardless of the Israeli wall built to prevent suicide bombers from entering
Israel, Hamas leaders allege they have managed to infiltrate tens of their
suicide bombers who are already in place in Israel and the West Bank awaiting
Even though Hamas has enough experience and possible accomplices among
Palestinians living in Israel to resume suicide attacks in Israeli cities,
Israeli forces demonstrated their ability to prevent suicide attacks in the
assault on Gaza. The absence of successful suicide attacks on Israeli forces in
the conflict is likely an indication of Hamas' inability to recruit enough
volunteers to perpetrate suicide bombings, regardless of whatever claims are
made by the Hamas leadership.