NABLUS, West Bank Saddam Hussein has increased money for the relatives of suicide bombers from $10,000 to $25,000, drawing sharp criticism from Washington. But Palestinians say the bombers are driven by a priceless thirst for revenge, religious zeal and dreams of glory not greed.
Since Iraq upped its payments last month, 12 suicide bombers have successfully struck inside Israel, including one man who killed 25 Israelis, many of them elderly, as they sat down to a meal at a hotel to celebrate the Jewish holiday of Passover. The families of three suicide bombers said they have recently received payments of $25,000.
The devout Muslims among the bombers, a majority, believe they will go to heaven as martyrs and spend eternity in the company of 72 virgins. In grainy farewell home videos, they often read passages from the Muslim holy book, the Quran, and praise God. Secular attackers know that after the deed, their families will win the adulation of friends, neighbors and strangers.
The other motive seems to be a strong yearning for revenge. Relatives of many of the bombers recall how many of the young men's formative years were spent in Israeli jails. The mother of one bomber said her son once watched Israeli soldiers beating his father.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said Saddam's payments inspire a "culture of political murder."
Fifty-five Palestinians have blown themselves up in attacks on Israeli civilians in the past 18 months of fighting.