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“The Dominion of Death”: An Israeli Mother Who Lost Her 13-Year Old Daughter in a Suicidebombing Speaks Out Against Israel

StoryDecember 19, 2001
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The European Parliament has just awarded Nurit Peled-Elhanan, who is a lecturer in language and education at HebrewUniversity, the Sakharov prize for her advocacy for a peace in the Occupied Territories. Peled-Elhanan began a columnfor Yeediot Ahronot, Israel’s largest circulation daily, with these words:

“Dylan Thomas wrote a war poem entitled “And Death Shall Have No Dominion.” In Israel, it does. Here death governs:the government of Israel rules over a dominion of death. So the most astonishing thing about yesterday’s terroristattack in Jerusalem and all similar attacks is that Israelis are astonished.

“Israeli propaganda and indoctrination manage to keep coverage of these attacks detached from any Israeli reality.The story in the Israeli (and American) media is one of Arab murderers and Israeli victims, whose only sin was thatthey asked for seven days of grace.

“But anyone who can remember back not even one year but just one week or several hours knows the story is different,that each attack is a link in a chain of horrific bloody events that extends back 34 years and has but one cause: abrutal occupation. An occupation that humiliates, starves, denies jobs, demolishes homes, destroys crops, murderschildren, imprisons minors without trial under appalling conditions, lets babies die at checkpoints and spreadslies.”There are many Israeli peace activists who could write similar words. The remarkable thing about Nurit Peled-Elhananis that on September 4, 1997, she lost her 13-year old daughter in a Palestinian suicide bombing. The bombing wascarried out by four Palestinians who were best friends and who all came from the village of Asira al-shamaliye. Lastmonth, Israel assassinated a senior Hamas leader named Mahmoud Abu Hanoud, who came from the same village. Hanoud’sassassination set off the recent escalation of violence within an already violent period. Within days, Palestiniansuicide bombers attacked, killing 26 people. Israeli attack helicopters and F-16s bombed Arafat’s Gaza residence andpersonal helicopters, police buildings, and security offices.

Palestinian gunmen then ambushed a bus, killing 10 Israelis. Israel attacked again, bombing security buildings inresidential areas and a refugee camp, raiding communities, and carrying out their biggest housing demolition of theintifada at Khan Younis in the Gaza strip. At least ten civilians were killed, 35 houses destroyed and nearly 350people left homeless.

We reached Nurit Peled-Elhanan by telephone last night. She says the Israeli press fetishizes her, and refused totell the story of the killing her daughter once more. But her story was documented in a film called “The Bombing.”We will hear from Nurit and her husband Rami Elhanan, parents of Smadar, as well as the parents of two of the suicidebombers.


  • selections from “The Bombing,” a documentary film by Simone Bitton about the suicide bombing in Jerusalem onSeptember 4, 1997. It was produced in 1998 and aired on Israeli television in 1999.


  • Nurit Peled-Elhanan, recipient of the European Parliament’s 2001 Sakharov prize for her peace advocacy inthe Middle East. She lost her daughter in the September 4, 1997 suicide bombing. She is also a lecturer inlanguage and education at Hebrew University, and author of the column, “The Dominion of Death,” which was recentlypublished in Yediot Ahronot, Israel’s largest circulation daily.
  • Kanaan Al-Jamal, a Palestinian from the village of Asira Al-Shamaliye, where assassinated Hamas militaryleader Mahmoud Abu Hanoud and the four Palestinian suicide bombers who killed Nurit’s daughter came from. He alsoworked on the documentary film, “The Bombing”.

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