Jerusalem (CNSNews.com) - Palestinian society is willing to accept terror attacks carried out by women and children because they see themselves as "one person" in the struggle against Israel, a prominent Palestinian human rights expert said on Thursday.
Bassam Eid, director of the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group, called it horrible that Palestinians would send a 14-year-old boy like Husam Abdu to commit a terror attack, but he said most Palestinians would accept the idea.
Wearing an explosive-laden vest, Abdu ran toward Israeli soldiers at the Hawara checkpoint outside of Nablus on Wednesday but halted and surrendered when soldiers dived behind concrete barriers and pointed their guns at him.
The boy apparently became frightened and told the soldiers he didn't want to die. Sappers sent a robot out to the youth with scissors and instructed him to cut the vest's straps. He was then taken away for interrogation.
"I think that the Palestinian people are looking [at themselves] as one person [in] the fight against the [Israeli] occupation," Eid said in a telephone interview.
"Unfortunately there is not any difference between a [woman or a child]. Most of the Palestinian side is now supporting action taken by children," Eid said.
Eid said that using young people to carry out terror attacks is "horrible [and] damaging to the reputation of the Palestinians."
While such action is unjustifiable, he said it is motivated by "economic pressure more than nationalistic pressure." He charged that Israel bore "moral responsibility" for closing schools and preventing Palestinians from receiving work permits inside Israel.
For much of the last three and a half years, Israel has closed its borders to Palestinian workers and merchants in an effort to prevent the entry of terrorists.
Israeli officials condemned the use of children to carry out terror attacks.
"It's a despicable use of innocent Palestinian children for the purpose of attacking Israelis," said David Baker an official in Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's office.
"This deplorable act should be condemned and it just goes to shows what kind of level of immorality terror has arrived at," Baker said.
Last week, Abdullah Kuran, 11, was paid five shekels ($1.20) to carry a bag containing a bomb across the same checkpoint. He was caught by soldiers and later released when it became clear that he did not know that he had been carrying a bomb.
Abdu reportedly told his interrogators that he had been mocked by his friends. A teacher had told his class that suicide bombers went to the Garden of Eden where 72 virgins awaited them. He was offered 100 shekels ($23) to blow himself up.
Abdu's family was quoted as saying that the boy was slightly retarded. That could not be confirmed.
According to a radio report on Thursday, the Israeli army arrested three more students from Abdu's school. The army said it was checking the report.