January 8, 2009.
When Hamas leader Nizar Rayyan was assassinated in an IAF strike last week,
his four wives and 11 of his children died with him. According to his surviving
children, the death of the Rayyan family children was not an accident: Rayyan
had trained his wives and children to die with him as “martyrs.”
Surviving family members spoke to local Arab media and said that in the days
before his death, Rayyan had repeatedly asked his children, “Who wants to die
with me as a martyr?” The children would respond, “Yes, daddy, we all want to
be with you alive or dead.”
Rayyan’s adult daughter, Wala, said even the younger children wished to die
with their father. “If you had asked my four-year-old sister Aisha, who died in
the attack, she would have told you that she preferred to die as a martyr,”
Wala told Ma’an news.
One of Rayyan’s daughter-in-laws said she was offered the chance to die with
the family. She stopped by the family’s large home in Jabaliya and was asked
by Rayyan if she wished to die with him, his wives and their children. She
agreed to die, but later left the building, shortly before the IAF strike.
As it turned out, when Rayyan offered his daughter-in-law the “opportunity” to
die he had already received a phone call from the IDF warning him to evacuate
his house due to an impending airstrike.
The 11 children who died with Nizar Rayyan ranged in age from one year old to
16. Another son died years earlier when Rayyan sent him to carry out a suicide
bombing in Gaza. Two Israelis were murdered in that attack.
Rayyan was one of Hamas’ extremist preachers, and believed that those who
die fighting Israel die as “martyrs” and go directly to paradise. He encouraged
his followers to have several wives and as many children as possible, in order
to provide future soldiers in the fight against Israel. He also encouraged Hamas
to take over Judea and Samaria and carry out suicide attacks targeting Jews.