- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 3, 2002

Dozens of Jewish activists rallied outside the Palestine Liberation Organization's Washington mission yesterday, protesting a wave of Palestinian suicide bombings in Israel.

"Israel is suffering, our friends and families are suffering," Peter Hebert shouted through a hand-held megaphone during the street-corner rally, which attracted curious lunchtime onlookers downtown.

"No cause justifies suicide bombings," Mr. Hebert said. His Bethesda-based group, Friends and Family in Israel, called on Jewish congregations from across the region to gather with prayers, picket signs and Israeli flags.

Inside the mission, officials said the demonstrators were "gathered in the wrong place." They should protest in front of the Israeli Embassy "because that is where the terrorism is coming from," said the mission's chief representative, Hasan A. Rahman.

"I assure you, when you ask a Palestinian suicide bomber, 'Why do you do this?' he will tell you, 'Give me an F-16 fighter plane or an Apache helicopter or a tank and I will not use my body as a bomb,'" Mr. Rahman said. He said his grandfather was killed by Israeli soldiers last summer.

Several Jews at the rally said they also had lost loved ones in the violence since the current Palestinian intifada, or uprising, began in September 2000. Last Wednesday, a Palestinian blew himself up in the dining room of an Israeli resort as guests gathered to celebrate Passover. The attack killed 24 Israelis and wounded more than 140.

Ron Hyatt, from Rockville, said peace with the Palestinians seems impossible because they "don't articulate what they want."

"They have been offered deal after deal, which they turn down again and again," he said. "The world needs to focus on making the Palestinians focus on what they want beyond creating terror in Israel."

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