- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 26, 2002

JERUSALEM Jewish settlers have come up with a new way to deter Palestinian suicide bombers wrapping their corpses in pigskin to deprive them of the fruits of paradise.

The settlers believe that contact with a pig, an unclean animal for Muslims and Jews, will rob the bomber of the reward of martyrdom, traditionally said to be 72 virgins.

Settlers at Gush Katif, in the Gaza Strip, were the first to claim to have defiled the body of a dead Palestinian with "pigskin and lard."

Residents of Efrat, a Jewish settlement near Bethlehem, said they did the same to a Palestinian building worker who tried to blow up their supermarket yesterday, but was shot dead before most of the explosives detonated.

Shlomo Riskin, chief rabbi of Efrat, defended the practice: "If burial in pigskin will deter suicide bombers, then it is incumbent on us to do this. We should do anything to save life."

There has been no photographic evidence of daubing with lard and no one has come forward as the supplier of the pork, leading some to suspect that the settlers are trying to scare off future suicide bombers, who are mainly impressionable young men.

But the rabbi said: "I truly believe it happened. The pigskin was supplied by someone with a good sense of initiative. The body was lying by the supermarket for three to four hours. There was plenty of time."

Pork is considered an abomination by observant Jews, but is produced at one kibbutz and enjoyed by secular Israelis.

Palestinian Muslims reacted with scorn to the idea, saying the soul went to paradise and was unaffected by any taint to the body.

"The keys to heaven are not in the hands of settlers," said Sheik Hassan Youssef, for Hamas, whose military wing has sent dozens of suicide bombers into Israel.

Islamic reference books say the body of a martyr who dies for the faith is so pure that it does not need to be washed before burial, in contrast to the usual Muslim practice.

Eve Harow, a member of the Efrat local council, said: "It is sad that our only defense is a pigskin. There is a war on, and all we can do is send someone up to a kibbutz to buy some pork to defend us."


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