THE latest Hamas suicide-bomber to strike Israel may have been planning to detonate a crude chemical weapon, Israeli police said yesterday. [...] Sayfien was shot dead by police as he lay grievously wounded on the street after triggering the explosives hidden under his coat. With what little life he had left, he was crawling towards the second, even bigger bomb. It was this that police claimed may have contained chemicals. What would be a significant new departure for Palestinian terrorist groups was revealed yesterday by government officials, who said that a bomb that exploded in a pedestrian precinct in the centre of Jerusalem last Saturday night, killing 11, had “traces of hazardous materials”.
You wonder, if this is true ... what on earth could Hamas hope to accomplish with this? First, contaminating Israel with spots of chemical warfare is startlingly silly; after all, the Palestinians and Israeli Arabs still have to live in the immediate area. Depending on the size of the weapon, it can be remarkably indiscriminate. Second, having any sort of successful attack with chemical weapons -- even if it's just rat poison embedded in skin and open wounds -- would remove any sort of restraint from Israel; I'm not sure that even the other Arab countries could figure out how to condemn Israel for what would surely follow.
To be sure, at this stage, it looks like we're talking about low level chemical weapons -- rat poison was reported coating one bomb. That betrays a certain lack of understanding of how bombs work; why would you coat it? Most of the poison would vaporise in the explosion, and the remainder would mostly stick to the bomb itself. (It's interesting to see the difference in coverage from different places; the Times attitude can best be described as, "Egad! Horrors! Chemical weapons!" and the Jerusalem Post's attitude, in what's almost literally a throwaway paragraph buried deep in the article, can be described as "Eh. Chemical weapons. Rat poison. Big whoop.")
As for Israel ... well, it's going to be remarkably effective to run around killing children, now isn't it? You kill their children, they kill yours, and eventually, with a little luck, the entire civilized world will wash its hands of all of them until they've seen enough of their children die to be willing to make some compromises.
12/19/2001: vive la france
12/19/2001: princess, redux
12/19/2001: yemen and rumsfeld
12/18/2001: you're NOT in the army now
12/18/2001: interesting donation
12/18/2001: shame on winn dixie, indeed
12/18/2001: saudi princess
12/17/2001: new resolve
12/17/2001: a victim of the attack ... yeah, right
12/17/2001: polluters ho!