JERUSALEM – A 23-year-old Palestinian man who was shot and killed in a clash with Israeli forces apparently harbored a secret desire to die in order to “marry the 70 virgins in Paradise,” the official Palestinian Authority daily recently reported.
Saba Abu Obeid reportedly told his grandmother he was hoping to die because the “70 beauties are waiting for me,” Al-Hayat Al-Jadida reported two weeks ago according to a translation from Israeli NGO Palestinian Media Watch.
Obeid’s grandmother recounted:
“He asked me to sound cries of joy if he died as a Martyr. I told him: ‘Everyone who seeks Martyrdom-death (Shahada) is entitled to achieve it, but I want to marry you off and rejoice in your happiness.’ He told me: ‘Grandmother, 70 beauties are waiting for me in Paradise, why should I replace them with the women of this world?'”
Obeid, from a village north of Ramallah, threw rocks at IDF forces as part of his participation in the Palestinians’ “Day Of Rage” last month. In response, IDF soldiers shot and wounded him with a Ruger bullet, usually used for non-lethal purposes such as riot dispersal. However, Obeid later died of his wounds.
According to Islam, one of the rewards for dying as a martyr (shaheed) is marrying 72 “dark-eyed maidens” and for this reason the Palestinian Authority describes the funerals as weddings, PMW’s report said.
During the height of the Second Intifada, messages that shahada – martyrdom – is “sweet” and “beautiful” were being inculcated in Palestinian youth.
Obeid himself would likely have been exposed to any one of multiple TV shows broadcasting such messages. Palestinian Media Watch reported on one show featuring two 11-year-old girls explaining that “Shahada is beautiful” and “everyone yearns for Shahada.” They stated that “going to Paradise” is “sweet” and what really matters is “the Afterlife.”
A third girl who called in to the program said it was “natural” that 17-year-old suicide bomber Ayyat Al-Akhras “blew herself up.”